The percentage of women in board level positions at FTSE 100 hospitality, travel and leisure companies has risen by 3% over the last year, new figures have revealed.

The findings, contained within the latest Women in Hospitality Travel & Leisure 2020 Review, showed that 32% of females now occupied senior positions, up from 29% on the previous year.

Improvements had also been made in FTSE 250 companies with 22% of women holding board level roles compared to 20% the year before, although this figure remained below the cross-sector average of 25%, the report found.

The analysis, which was based on interviews with 120 companies and assessed the progress that had been made since gender pay reporting became mandatory for firms with over 250 employees in 2017, also cited “encouraging progress” in the area of female non-executive directors (NEDs) - the rate at which women were appointed to such roles reached 62% over the past 12 months.

Across the FTSE 350, 40% of NEDs are women and the number who are direct reports across the whole sector had reached 36%, the research stated.

Despite these improvements, the report suggested that work still needed to be done to meet the 33% target of female representation across boards and executive committees by 2020, set by the Hampton-Alexander review.

“There remains a great deal of work to do,” Tea Colaianni, chair of WiH2020, an independent cross-industry body supported by firms including PwC and The MBS Group, wrote in the report.

“Over the last year, the gap between companies performing well and those that still have a way to go has widened. Despite an ever-increasing pool of female executives and non-executives to choose from, women occupy just 7% of the CEO, CFO and chair triumvirate in FTSE 350 HTL businesses, and only 10.4% of CEO roles across the HTL sector are held by women. It looks like this shortage of women in key leadership roles is unlikely to change in the near term.”

The research also revealed that the number of people from a black and ethnic minority background is “vastly underrepresented” in the sector, with just one in 33 leaders (combined board, executive committee and direct report) in the industry identifying as BAME - the UK government launched a consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting in October 2018.

Jon Terry, diversity and inclusion consulting leader at PwC added: “Overall there has been encouraging progress across the sector, but there is still much work to do to increase the number of senior women and people from other diverse backgrounds. A focus on ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities to progress and for firms across the sector to better reflect their customers, brings benefits to business as well as to society.”