The number of women on the boards of directors of Britain's 350 top publicly traded firms have witnessed a significant jump of 50 per cent in the last 5 years. According to an independent panel led by Philip Hampton, the former chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, women now hold more than a third of the seats i.e. 34.3 per cent of all the board seats on the boards of Britain's biggest companies. The British government had set the one-third goal as part of an effort to encourage businesses to voluntarily increase the number of women on their boards and in senior executive roles.The panel reported that women now hold at least one-third of the board seats at 220 companies, up from 53 five years ago. But, women still fall behind in the competition for senior executive roles, particularly at smaller firms. According to the report, women hold 26.5 per cent of executive committee seats at the 100 largest companies and just 21.7 per cent of these seats at smaller companies.In a statement to The Independent Publisher, Hampton said, The progress has been strongest with non-executive positions on boards, but the coming years should see many more women taking top executive roles, thats what is needed to sustain the changes made. Kwasi Kwarteng, United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy hopes to set an example for other countries by this voluntary approach of Britain. In a statement to the press he said, The U.K. governments voluntary, business-led approach to increasing womens boardroom representation has been hugely successful and will, I hope, serve as a blueprint for countries across the world looking to make business more reflective of society. Leading by example other countries, including France, Norway, Sweden and Italy, have also set legally binding quotas. The UK panel further reported that women hold 43.8 per cent of the board seats at companies in France's 40 biggest publicly traded companies and the corresponding number for Norway is 39.5 per cent, Sweden 37.3 per cent and Italy 36.5 per cent.Disclaimer: *Image for representational purposes only.