Business woman (9)

The proportion of board appointments in the UK going to women slumped to its lowest level in five years, according to the new report.

Twenty-six per cent of board positions at FTSE 100 companies are currently occupied by women - above Lord Davies' target of 25%. But between September 2015 and March 2016, the number of female appointments dropped to 24.7% - the lowest figure since September 2011.

The government-backed report said appointments of women to boards would need to pick up pace in order to meet a 33% target for the FTSE 350.

“Without a concerted effort and a regular spotlight on the figures, we risk inertia setting in and a return to the years of incremental increases," the report reads.

Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the Women on Boards review, described it as a “a pause in progress”. He suggested that companies that achieved the 25% target had a feeling of 'OK, we’ve done it'.

Dame Helen Alexander, deputy chair of the review said the issue is “not just about numbers, but about getting change embedded and ensuring firms recognise female talent”.

Critics have highlighted the lack of number of women in influential executive roles, with most appointed to non-executive director roles. But Sir Philip stressed that his goal was to improve the pipeline of suitable female candidates for the future.