The government’s business-led approach to creating greater gender equality in the boardrooms of the UK’s biggest companies is paying dividends, business secretary Vince Cable has said.

Yesterday (July 24th) marked a year since the introduction of a voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms.

The code, developed in response to Lord Davies’ review into female representation on boards, sets out seven key principles of best practice for recruitment companies aimed at increasing the number of women appointed to boardroom positions.

And the latest figures show that the UK has made some significant progress in improving workplace equality at board-level.

Women now make up 16.7 per cent of FTSE 100 board positions and 10.9 per cent of those at FTSE firms, up from 12.5 per cent and 7.8 per cent respectively in 2010.

“The progress we have seen in the past year proves that the UK’s business-led approach to achieving boardroom diversity is working,” said Mr Cable. “The voluntary code of conduct has played a key part in this progress.”

Included within the code of conduct is a requirement for recruitment firms to compile long-lists with at least 30 per cent female representation, while they are also encouraged to expand their traditional search avenues.

Figures show that since March of this year women have made up 44 per cent of newly appointed FTSE 100 board directors and 40 per cent of those in the FTSE 250.

“Diverse boards are better boards: benefiting from fresh perspectives, talent, new ideas and broader experience which enables businesses to better reflect and respond to the needs of their customers,” continued Mr Cable.

“This is good for women, good for companies who need to be the best they can be in order to compete in today’s tough global market place, and ultimately good for the UK economy as a whole.”