By Maximilian Clarke

The number of women sitting on the boards of FTSE 100 companies has rocketed from 88 to 156 in the space of a year.

“At the end of 2010, there were 88 women on FTSE 100 boards, rising to 156 by the end of August 2011. This shows progress is being made, but more needs to be done to build a strong pipeline for female talent to reach the top,” commented Katja Hall, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry.

Since it emerged that just 12.5% of leading companies’ boardrooms were comprised of females, a number of initiatives have been launched to encourage businesses to establish more equal management. Numerous pieces of independent research suggest that doing so is not merely in the interest of equality, but also makes shrewd business sense,. Businesses with more even boardrooms have been found to be more competitive and have a tendency to perform better than their more sexually homogenous counterparts.

Lord Davies launched the report, Women on Boards, intending to double the numbers of women. It was decided to avoid the use of a mandatory quota system unlike other European nations including France and Spain, a move that was criticised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, but praised by businesses.

“The voluntary approach is starting to pay off and therefore proposals to introduce mandatory quotas are unnecessary and would smack of tokenism,” said Hall.

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