Less than half of the 260 smaller companies listed on the London Stock Exchange’s main index have met the target of having a third of their board roles occupied by women, and more than half still have all-male executive leadership teams.

The campaign group Women on Boards UK has analysed all firms below the FTSE 350 All-Share index, and identified what it calls a “permafrost” of smaller businesses below the top layer that have been slow in taking steps to diversify.

Only 48% have met the government-backed Hampton-Alexander review’s target for having women in 33% of boardroom roles, the study found, compared with nearly two-thirds of FTSE 350 businesses.

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