GlaxoSmithKline’s chairman Sir Philip Hampton has been appointed as the government’s new business equality tsar. He will be running Women on Boards, a campaign launched in 2011 aimed at encouraging companies to appoint more women to senior positions. 

It reached its first target last year, which was to double the number of woman on FTSE 100 boards to 25%. It will now focus on the FTSE 350.

“I am delighted to take on Lord Davies’s great work around Women on Boards and I want to now turn my attention to the FTSE 350,” said Hampton. “I will focus on improving representation in the executive layer of companies, as well as maintaining the momentum on boards. This means looking at the talent pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors to ensure we create opportunities and the right conditions for women to succeed.”

Hampton’s first move was to appoint Dame Helen Alexander, chair of UBM, as deputy chair. Alexander is also a non-executive director of Rolls-Royce Group, Huawei UK, and a senior adviser to Bain Capital.

Announcing the appointment, business secretary Sajid Javid said: “The employment rate for women has never been higher and there are now more women on FTSE boards than ever before. But we need to go further, particularly when it comes to paving the way to the executive level. Companies cannot afford to miss out on the skills and talent of the whole population if the UK is going to compete in a fast-moving global economy. This is not just about diversity for diversity’s sake, but about improving performance and productivity.

“Sir Philip brings a wealth of business experience to this important role, and he has an impressive track record of creating a culture where women can thrive and succeed.”