Tag: boards

On May 11, the Financial Times publishes the next Women at the Top page as part of its flagship project on female business leadership. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

The latest census from the Alliance for Board Diversity proves what we probably knew already – that little progress has been achieved in the diversity of corporate America in the past six years. (more…)

Merryn Somerset Webb

I am speaking at my school’s old girls’ day this week. I am flattered, but I also wonder why, given that I was lucky enough to go to one of the best girls’ schools in the country, that it was me they asked. (more…)

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Typically, investors focus on bottom-line results, sustainability and social responsibility – but that is no longer enough. (more…)

Ellen Kelleher

Female office workers who toil in cubicles consider Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management, something of a rock star.

(more…)

Liz Bolshaw

In Monday’s FT, Lucy Kellaway writes about the impact that she, specifically as a female non-executive director (of Admiral, the FTSE 100 car insurance group), has on her board.

How much does gender deliver diversity? Will a woman inevitably bring a different perspective to the board table than a man, or do we exaggerate the importance of gender in our drive for more heterogeneous management teams? Kellaway goes on to take a tilt at another mantra for increasing female participation at board level: positive role modelling. She writes:

“I don’t kid myself that my own inanely grinning face in the annual report is a good example to bright, ambitious women working in the company on whose board I serve.”

In an article published last year in European Management Review, an international journal, Sabina Nielsen and Morten Huse discussed their research into the contributions made by women directors to board decision-making and strategic involvement at 120 Norwegian companies.

Because Norway has the highest level of participation of women in the boardroom globally, having introduced a 40 per cent quota in 2008, it makes for a useful gender lab.

Broadly, the researchers found it was not gender as such that underpinned women’s different perspectives, but rather the varied professional experience and value systems they tended to bring to the boardroom. More women than men in the research sample had higher degrees and non-business backgrounds. They were less likely than men to tolerate ethical lapses such as insider trading.

Most of them held, like Kellaway, non-executive roles, and those who were executive directors tended to be in “soft” areas such as human resources, marketing and corporate and social responsibility. This difference led to a commonly held notion, among both male and female directors, that female board members were less central to driving their boards’ decisions than their male counterparts. There was a difference in those cases where the chief executive was a woman: then all the women in the boardroom were deeply engaged in both setting strategy and contributing to board decisions.

One of the difficulties in research into gender difference in leadership is simply that it is hard to quantify. Also, it often corresponds to perceptions of gender stereotypes. We need more examples of gender-balanced boards – and especially of boards with three or more women executive directors – to be able to analyse how much gender itself makes a difference.

Liz Bolshaw

With quotas off the menu – at least in the short term – the drivers for improving the number of women on UK boards are increasingly expected to be recruitment companies and shareholders. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

Sasha Galbraith is a US-based consultant specialising in organisational design and promoting diversity in executive management. I spoke to her earlier this week. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

Unfortunate remarks regarding board diversity made by Josef Ackermann, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, have landed him in almost as much trouble as when he flashed a V-for-victory sign upon entering a German courthouse in 2004, when he faced trial for approving controversial bonus payments at Mannesmann, the engineering company acquired by Vodafone in 2000. (more…)

Liz Bolshaw

The 30% Club, founded last year by Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management, with a number of fellow senior executives, has just appointed Anita Frew, its first female “supporting chairman”. (more…)

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