More women than ever before are taking up leading roles in Britain's top 100 companies, thanks to vountary targets set by the government. But as Katie Gregory reports, there's still a long way to go, not just in the UK - but globally.
More females are marching into boardrooms across the world. In the UK, a new report into the top 100 companies - has found there's no longer any "all-male" boardrooms. But a 50/50 share of positions at the table - is still a long way off. Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas is chief commercial officer at Barclaycard - and the company's "Woman of the year." (SOUNDBITE) BARCLAYCARD, CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, DR RHIAN-MARI THOMAS, SAYING; "We are starting to see a correlation between gender diverse boards and improved corporate financial performance, and if business performance and business case werent enough of an imperitive for us to do this, we also have arguments about increasing our talent pools." Currently women account for 23.5% of FTSE 100 board members. That's up from 12.5% in 2011. But it's Norway (38.9%) and Finland (32.1%) leading the way in Europe. There's less than 20% in Germany. While women make up around 21% of boards within U.S. Fortune 500 companies. In Australia - 22.6% of board members are female. AND Japan is one of the lowest with just over 3% Some European countries have gone as far as setting MANDATORY percentage targets - or gender quotas - for their largest companies. Norway was one of the first to introduce the idea - Germany's parliament recently set a 30% target. In the UK - the government set a VOLUNTARY target of 25% by the end of 2015... which companies are on track to meet. Dr Elena Doldor is from Cranfield University - which compiles an annual FTSE female index. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CRANFIELD UNIVERSITY, VISITING FELLOW, REPORT AUTHOR, DR ELENA DOLDOR, SAYING: "We have an equally competent educated workforce coming in to organisations at the entry level - and then we don't see this translating into the top. so that's a problem. Because that suggests that the processes that take people to the top are not entirely fair and it doesn't make a lot of sense to not use half of your talent." (SOUNDITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, KATIE GREGORY, SAYING: "Do you think it's still the case that women are being overlooked for roles simply because they are women? (SOUNDBITE) (English) CRANFIELD UNIVERSITY, VISITING FELLOW, REPORT AUTHOR, DR ELENA DOLDOR, SAYING: "Yes absolutely women are being overlooked because they're women and there's a lot of reasearch to support that." At Barclays 22% of senior management positions are held by women - with a target of reaching 26% by 2018. But Dr Thomas says more can be done by all companies. (SOUNDBITE) BARCLAYCARD, CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, DR RHIAN-MARI THOMAS, SAYING; "A female graduate, graduating today, is 7 times less likely that her male colleague to make it to that executive committe level and this at a time when the majority of graduates in the country are women." So whether mandatory or voluntary - the more targets that are set, the more companies become publicly responsible for diversity within the workplace.