About Women on Boards

Women on Boards is an open, action-oriented social enterprise supporting women seeking to leverage their professional skills and experience into board and leadership roles. 

Women on Boards exists to help women get onto boards and to make them aware of the many different types of boards they could target.  Women are less likely than men to be asked to join a board and many lack information about how to access these roles successfully.

What we do

1: Building the pool of female role models by providing the information, connections and encouragement to ensure more women are appointed to boards across all sectors

2: Increasing the transparency of the board recruitment process through our vacancy listings and our work with head-hunters and the government to “turn off the spotlight and turn on the floodlights” when recruiting board members. 

  • We are actively encouraging recruiters to open up their field of vision by advertising more positions; 
  • We are helping women to understand their transferable skills and to make the right connections to access board positions;
  • We are challenging organisations to set measurable targets and to know their gender data;
  • And we will hold organisations and industry associations to account when they have no women speakers at their events.

So we hope you will join us in our mission for transparency and open information.  And if you like what we do, get engaged.  Don’t just sign-up to our website as a free member, subscribe for just £120 (incl. VAT) and help us to build the next generation of female directors.

The Context

In March 2014 we celebrated the fact that one in five FTSE100 board members are now women and that only 2 all-male boards remain in this select group of companies.  But is 20.7% really such a great achievement when women make up half the population and more than 50% of university graduates?  Beyond these headline successes:

  • There are only 4 female Chief Executives in the FTSE 100 and only 5.3% of executive directors in the FTSE 250 are women
  • Only 22.5 % of MP’s and 13.6% of the senior judiciary are women
  • Recent research for the 30% Club shows that a man joining a law firm is 10 times more likely to be promoted to partner than a women and the comparable figure in the corporate world is four and a half times.  

This absence of women from the senior ranks of organisations and politics is rooted in history.  Women were only granted the vote in the UK in 1918 and up until 1968, Cambridge University did not award degrees to women.  And it is only in the last 50 years that contraception has enabled women to choose the size and timing of their families.  So most organisations were designed by men for men; and these cultures are proving difficult to change: 

  1. One reason is that very few boards have access to good data about where and when they are losing women from the organisation; 
  2. Another is that unconscious bias and gender stereotypes run deep in all of us and play a significant part in determining who succeeds; 
  3. And thirdly, there’s the myth of meritocracy.  People shy away from setting gender targets because they believe that this undermines merit - but merit is a subjective concept whose rules are defined by the dominant culture.

References:
- "Sex and Power 2013: Who runs Britain?" Centre for Women and Democracy
- "The Female FTSE Board Report 2014: Crossing the Finish Line", Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders
 

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