THE First Minister has called on firms to “inject new momentum” into improving gender equality on company boards and throughout the workplace.

Nicola Sturgeon addressed business leaders at a Hampton-Alexander Review event, hosted by the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh, yesterday.

The independent review was commissioned by the UK Government to look at ways to increase the number of women in senior positions in FTSE 350 companies.

It set out recommendations to increase female leadership and board representation, and noted improvements in recent years.

However it stated a “step change is needed in pace”.

On board membership, it found that progress had slowed in 2016 before picking up again in 2017.

Around one in four FTSE 100 board members are women, with a target of one in three set for 2020.

Sturgeon said: “The Hampton-Alexander Review highlights some clear improvements made in boardroom gender equality in recent years. While welcome, these changes are not nearly enough.

“This year, which marks the centenary of woman’s suffrage in the UK, is an opportunity to inject new momentum into improving female representation – not simply at board level, but across the economy as a whole.

“As a result of the wide-ranging debate on inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment against women, there is rightly more scrutiny on equality in the workplace than ever before.

“Public tolerance of gender inequality has never been lower, and the reputational damage to organisations too slow to make changes has never been higher.

“Many companies now realise that more equal representation in the boardroom, and in senior positions, improves businesses and benefits the bottom line.

“Crucially, it is an important step in achieving gender equality across society, as we work together to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”