25% women on Boards by 2015
The findings of the Lord Davies Review, published recently, with its recommendations on how to increase the number of women on the boards of listed companies in the UK establishes the following as key development needs:
1. Companies should treat women’s leadership as a dynamic and strategic opportunity rather than an equal opportunities issue.
2. Companies should consider raising their board’s and their nominating committee’s understanding of and ability to address unconscious bias.
3. Board placement researchers and interviewers should understand and adopt processes to eliminate unconscious bias.
4. Boards should provide senior women with influential board or executive level mentors either from within the organisation or outside it.
5. Senior manager development needs to enable them to recognise and act on their own unconscious bias to ensure women’s skills and experiences are not stereotyped and their talents overlooked.
I believe addressing these requirements needs Boards to adopt:
- A long-term, strategic approach to ensuring that women of high potential are more effectively identified and offered the development and experience needed for them to become board member.
- Boards and Nominating Committees need to have their awareness raised of the existence of unconscious bias in their organisations and its potential negative impact on the performance and advancement of women. A highly effective means of doing this is a short workshop including forum theatre scenarios to illustrate how unconscious bias plays out in relation to women in masculine organisational cultures. Interactive activities are then powerful in enabling workshop delegates to identify and adopt the behaviours they need to practise to address unconscious bias.
- Companies should consider assigning executive sponsors to their high potential women. A sponsor is someone who acts: on their protégé’s behalf as an advocate for their next promotion; expands their perception of what they can do; connects them to senior leaders; promotes their visibility; opens up career opportunities and gives career advice; offers advice on executive presence.
- Leadership development programmes need to incorporate learning on unconscious bias and how to lead and manage inclusively to enable women to achieve their full potential.
What do you think is required?