The Government has welcomed new figures on the number of women on company boards, saying good progress is being made towards a target of 25 per cent by 2015.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said he was confident the figure would be reached after a study showed that 19 per cent of directors were female, up from 12.5 per cent in 2011 when the target was set after a report by Lord Davies.
Almost a quarter of non-executive directors are women, up from 15 per cent in February 2011, while 6.1 per cent of executive directors are female, a 0.6 per cent rise, the Government study showed.
But the number of FTSE-100 companies with women on their board has fallen by one to 94 since earlier this year.
Mr Cable has written to firms with all-male boards asking them what steps they are taking to address the issue.
He said: “Businesses are clearly still striving to get the right mix of talent around their boardroom table and we must not lose that momentum.
“We have until 2015 to reach our target of 25 per cent of women on the boards of listed companies which Lord Davies set us two years ago. With today’s encouraging figures, I am confident we can get over the finish line.
“But appointing more women as non-executive directors is not an end in itself. This is about more talented women getting executive experience, so that they will not only advise, but run this country’s great companies.”
CBI chief policy director Katja Hall said: “These figures show the voluntary business-led approach is working and we are pleased to see we are on the way to reaching our 25 per cent target.
“Businesses can only secure the best leaders if they look at the widest pool of candidates and greater diversity in the boardroom also improves decision-making.”
The figures come after Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson told Elle magazine the British reluctance to talk about money “holds women back”.
While being open about salaries could be uncomfortable, it could also be the “catalyst” for female workers to seek pay rises, she suggested.