Dozens of the UK’s biggest companies have been named and shamed for having all- male boards or just a single ‘token’ female director.
Two companies in the FTSE 350 – property group Daejan Holdings and software firm Kainos Group – have no women on the board.
And a further 39 have only one female board member, a Government-backed report has revealed.
Under-represented: Severn Trent chief exec, Liv Garfield, left, and ITV chief execCarolyn McCall, left, are among just six female FTSE 100 bosses
But the Hampton-Alexander review also found that the FTSE 100 index of blue-chip companies is on track to meet its gender diversity target.
This is to ensure at least a third of the seats in boardrooms are filled by women by the end of next year.
Hailing the strongest year of progress since the equality drive was set in motion by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011, it revealed that women now fill 32.4 per cent of board positions, up from 30.2 per cent last year and just 12.5 per cent in 2011.
There was also progress in the FTSE 250, with women now holding 29.6 per cent of all board positions.
This was up from 24.9 per cent last year and 7.8 per cent in 2011. The tally in the FTSE 350 rose from 26.7 per cent last year to 30.6 per cent this year.
But the Hampton-Alexander review heaped pressure on companies to promote more women into the top jobs.
In total there were just 14 women chief executives of FTSE 350 companies, up from 12 last year.
That includes six in the FTSE 100 and eight in the FTSE 250.
Among them are Emma Walmsley at Glaxosmithkline, Tristia Adele Harrison of Talk Talk, Penny James of insurer Direct Line, Karen Hubbard of Card Factory and Clare Gilmartin of Trainline.
Denise Wilson, a veteran businesswoman who is running the initiative alongside City grandee Sir Philip Hampton, said chief executive roles are still ‘beyond reach for too many women’.
Alison Brittain, left, has taken charge at Whitbread while Alison Rose, right, was recently named as RBS boss
Emma Walmsley of Glaxosmithkline is the FTSE’s best paid female boss while Alison Cooper, right, is set to stand down down as chief exec of Imperial Brands after nine years
She added: ‘The stereotype of a chief executive is still 6ft 2in, has a 42-inch chest and greying hair. The culture in the workplace has been built by men for men. We are trying to change behaviour and that takes time. It’s a multi-year process.’
The worst offenders – with all-male boards – are the property group Daejan Holdings and the Belfast-based software company Kainos Group.
Daejan, thought to be the only publicly listed company in Britain that has never had a woman on its board, has been involved in a long- running row with the Government’s diversity tsars.
The firm has attributed its all-male policy to the Jewish Orthodox faith of its executives and the desire of its chairman, Benzion Freshwater, to preserve the legacy of his father Osias, who started building his property empire in the 1950s.
The number of firms in the FTSE 350 with all-male boards has fallen from five last year. But the report also lists 39 companies dubbed ‘one and done’ firms, as they have a sole female board member.
Among those in this group for the second year running are investment firm Alliance Trust, betting companies Rank Group and Plus 500, and BCA Marketplace, the owner of We Buy Any Car, which is run by Avril Palmer-Baunack.
New entrants to this category include FTSE 100 mining giant Rio Tinto, which was also named as having the least diverse board in the blue-chip index. Just one of its nine board members is a woman.
But the number of firms with just a token female board member has almost halved from 74 last year.
After Rio Tinto, British Gas-owner Centrica, with two women out of 12 board members, has the least diverse boardroom in the FTSE 100.
At the other end of the scale are Burberry and Rightmove, where women have half the board seats.
At Glaxosmithkline, five out of 11 board members are women, including Walmsley.
A spokesman for Kainos said: ‘We are currently recruiting for additional non-executive board representation, with the view to creating a more diverse board.’
Daejan declined to comment.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.