About Women on Boards

Women on Boards is an action-oriented social enterprise supporting women seeking to leverage their professional skills and experience into non-executive director and other board level roles. 

Women on Boards exists to help women make the right connections and career choices to get to board level within their own company or to take on a non-executive board role.  We are lowering the barriers to entry to the boardroom and building the pipeline of board-ready women.

There are many different types of boards, all of which need directors or trustees, including charity boards, Public Sector boards, housing associations, education sector boards, sports boards, NHS boards - all the way up to FTSE Boards.  However, women are less likely than men to be asked to join a board and many lack information about how to access these roles successfully.  

For a short introduction to why Women on Boards exists, watch this 3 minute video clip

What we do

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

  • We are helping women to understand their transferable skills and to make the right career choices and connections to access board positions

2: Increase the transparency of the board recruitment process through our NED vacancy board (free service to any organisation seeking a board member) 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 board positions

3: Advocacy around issues affecting women and leadership:

  • We are challenging organisations to know their gender participation data and to set measurable targets where diversity is lacking
  • We will hold organisations to account when they have no women speakers at their events
  • We plan to ask the UK government to commit to mandatory gender targets for the boards of Public Bodies

What makes WOB unique?

Women on Boards is part of a growing ecosystem of organisations and networks promoting and supporting women into leadership roles.  The unique value of being part of the WOB network is the ongoing personal support that WOB provides to subscribers.  This includes individual help with your board strategy, board profile and interview preparation and personal introductions to experienced directors who can provide advice and encouragement in specific interview situations.  So coming to a workshop or event is not a one-off experience with WOB.  This personal support, coupled with the rich collection of information in the WOB Resource Centre and on our Vacancy Board and the commitment of the WOB team to your success, are what makes WOB unique.

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.

See a list of frequently asked questions on our FAQ page for more information. 

You can also watch a short video of how WOB helps individuals wanting NED or trustee roles.

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

Foundation Sponsors

Women on Boards in the UK is delighted to receive support from four foundation sponsors:

 

  

Corporate Members

A number of global corporations are now members of Women on Boards UK including; J.P. Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon, BNP Paribas, UBS, Google, Aspen Insurance and WPP.

For our full list of corporate subscribers, click here.

For a short introduction to what WOB does for organisations and their employees, watch this short video clip.

Charity

Since our launch, Women on Boards has endorsed the charity Wellbeing of Women.  Our launch events generated over £3,500 for the charity and our events in 2013 generated £2,365.  Wellbeing of Women was established in 1964 and has been raising funds since then to invest in medical research and the development of specialist doctors and nurses working in the field of reproductive and gynaecological health. 

To register with Women on Boards (free), please click here