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Women on boards, where are we now? Two years on from Lord Davies' report

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Two years on from the Lord Davies' report on women on boards, figures show that female representation on corporate boards in the UK has increased to 17.3% up from 12.5%.

The report, published in 2011, recommended that FTSE 100 boards should aim for a minimum of 25% female representation by 2015.

A study published today by the Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) showed that France has overtaken the United States for the number of women on corporate boards.

The average percentage of female directors among Fortune Global 200 companies, the world's largest by revenues, came to a modest 15%.

But 25.1% of directors in the 17 top French companies are now women, thanks to a French quota law.

Only 20.9% of board members were women at the 57 largest US companies, the study found.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP) has introduced a training programme aimed at developing leadership skills among women managers.

The programme, Through the Glass Ceiling, is part of a wider initiative recently launched by the FSP called Leadership 21st Century. This aims to help the financial services sector restore its global reputation and rebuild consumer confidence by focusing on the effectiveness of boards and good governance. Diversity is a key part of this.

Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP) said: "The advantage of increasing the number of women on boards is clear; boards perform far better if people come from a range of diverse backgrounds.

"It is very important to work with business leaders to create avenues of growth to help lead a new generation of women to top boardroom positions."

Field added: "While there has been a significant increase in the number of women on boards since the Lord Davies Report was published, the UK hasn't yet reached the level the report recommends be achieved by 2015, of 25%.

"Many businesses could still do more to ensure they attract and recruit board directors from a wider pool, improving gender representation and other forms of diversity on their boards."