A database of "board-ready" women should be created to help headhunters boost female participation in British boardrooms, an independent review has suggested.

According to the review by Charlotte Sweeney, the information collection exercise would be led by Lord Davies, the Labour peer and former trade minister who has led the government's inquiry into women on boards, and shared with companies, investor groups and the 30% Club, a group of business leaders fighting to improve the gender balance in industry.

The "board-ready" idea was one of several suggestions by Sweeney, former international head of diversity and inclusion at Nomura International, who was asked by business secretary Vince Cable to investigate the executive search firms' Voluntary Code of Conduct.

"Throughout my review there was a clear, articulated commitment from the majority of search firms to support the creation of more diverse and balanced boards," said Sweeney.

"However, examples where the commitment was transferring to consistent and sustainable action were mixed.

"Further transparency across the industry will help identify where any further barriers are and inform where focused action is required."

Sweeney also proposed that headhunters should commit to putting forward at least one strongly recommended woman on the shortlist submitted to chairs for all board positions.

"The best search firms know it's their responsibility to challenge and probe employers' assumptions so they ensure businesses are not missing out on top female talent," said Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The suggestions came as the FTSE100 nears the target, set by Davies in his Women on Boards review of 2011, of achieving 25% of women in boardroom positions by 2015.

The current figure for the FTSE100 stands at 20.4%.