IoD to launch directory of potential female directors

11 Nov

The male head of the Institute of Directors (IoD) has pledged to take a leading role in promoting and achieving boardroom diversity.

Speaking at the IoD’s Women as Leaders conference, director general Simon Walker said one of his core objectives was advancing the cause of female business leaders.

He said: “There is no doubt that role of a director has been seen in the past as a job for the boys. This image is changing, but it has not yet been entirely dispelled. The notion that women should not play an equal role with men in the boardroom is not only unjust, but – equally importantly – inconsistent with the efficient functioning of a modern economy. I am absolutely convinced that the IoD must assume a position of leadership in advancing the cause of diversity on boards and in other leadership positions.”

His three-point plan for supporting board diversity involves:

  1. The first IoD training course for female directors: Women as Highly Effective Directors.
  2. Requiring companies to report on boardroom diversity in their annual reports, on a comply or explain basis.
  3. Establishing a directory of potential female directors that could help headhunters and companies add female non-executive directors to their boards.

The IoD blog has helpfully summarised some of the key insights from the Women as Leaders Conference 2011. The point that stands out for me comes from ICAEW’s director of member services Sharron Gunn, who is quoted as saying that it’s not about women on the board today, but about how we manage the pipeline of women coming forward to fill senior roles.

Headhunters frequently bemoan the fact that there just aren’t enough women around at senior levels. The work needs to start earlier, with women being mentored and groomed for the top. For now, that pipeline is generally leaky and unsupportive.

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