Almost half (47%) of first time appointments to FTSE350 boards in 2012 were women, compared to just 11% in 2007. The number of positions going to first-time appointees rose by 7% between 2007 and 2012.
Korn/Ferry CEO Richard Emerton said the research provides a window into the changing dynamics of the boards of the UK's biggest companies.
"Against a backdrop of five years of financial crisis, increased investor and media activism, regulatory intervention and fast-paced technological change, companies in 2012 have adapted by bringing fresh and new skills to their boards from a more diverse talent pool," he said.
Lack of experience
The results show that increased diversity in 2012, may have come at the expense of executive experience.
In 2007 almost half (46%) of first-time NED appointments had executive director experience, but in 2012 this dropped to 29%. Out of this, only 11% had experience of sitting on a FTSE350 executive board, compared to 25% in 2007.
Emerton said: "What is striking is the extent to which additional diversity is coming at the expense of prior board experience.
"It is clearly important that the induction of this new talent onto boards, and the support and mentoring they receive, is carefully designed and managed. This will ensure that the opportunities afforded by such appointments are fully realised and the risks are mitigated."
HR in the boardroom
HR magazine has teamed up with Steve Tappin, personal confidant to FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 CEOs, and Wayne Clarke, one of the founders of Best Companies, which produces the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for ranking, to launch a pioneering development programme for HR directors.
HR in the Boardroom, which will run for one year, is designed to help HR directors have more impact at the board. It combines one-to-one coaching with practical sessions, peer learning and networking.
For more information email HR publisher Siân Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 020 7501 6710.