Tag Archives: NEDs

The female Executive versus Non Executive Director choice

NEDS-TABLE-Short_580Given a choice of methods to meet gender targets which tactic would be quicker/easier for existing mainly male Boards to recruit more women to the Boardroom would you think?

You could EITHER invest in skilled, qualified and previously groomed senior females from within the organisation with a view to their long term future as a Director, making a genuine commitment to gender diversity…

OR you could talk to a recruitment specialist to find/appoint a Non Executive female Director with the specific functional skills you need.

Given that choice I’d plump for the first scenario as this will create female role models and represent career progression for ambitious women in future, making the business stand out as a female employer of choice.

But if an employer hasn’t looked at or wanted to create a female talent pipeline in-house, how likely are they to have suitable females ready and waiting here? Whereas it’ll be easier to go to the right executive agency, give them a recruitment brief and await an often serial NED to tick the gender target box with the right experience to boot.

For a contracted period of c3 years which mightn’t be too disastrous if it doesn’t work out and someone who doesn’t get ‘too’ involved in day to day business affairs?

Are NEDs the easy Board choice?

Call me cynical but isn’t it easier to meet mandatory gender targets by recruiting female NEDs rather than having to completely change an internal culture, especially if there hasn’t been any effort to court females to the highest echelons previously?

I am reminded of a recent occasion when I was in touch with a CEO of a top dealership group in the motor industry, discussing how to promote his group to women customers in future. ‘Of course we are female friendly’ he explained ‘we have several women in senior management roles.’ He then rescheduled my meeting with him, because he was too busy, so I met the senior and impressive females in question. After a good deal of polite but time wasting banter for us all one of them finally told me the truth – that neither of them could recommend the business as female friendly. And who better to know, but clearly the Board and the CEO were oblivious to the perceived reality of their internal culture.

Today’s Cranfield report

exec roles_nov13

A new report from Cranfield today confirms that the  UK’S biggest FTSE-listed firms are making ‘steady progress’ towards hitting 2015 targets to increase the number of women in their boardrooms. But, surprise, surprise, few are hiring women for executive roles, according to new figures released this morning.

Women now make up 19 per cent of FTSE 100 and 15 per cent of FTSE 250 board positions – the highest proportion since the survey began in 1999. And during the last six months since the statistics were last updated, 27 per cent of new appointments to FTSE 100 boards and 30 per cent to FTSE 250 boards went to women.

But though 33 new executives joined the ranks of the top 100 firm’s boards in the year to 1 October, just four of those appointments were female, with women still more likely to land non-executive (NED) roles.

The way forward for non-FTSE businesses?

I find it hard to believe that a genuinely enlightened CEO/MD/Chair wouldn’t appreciate that an all male Board has been selected from just 50% of the talent out there. Or fewer if you take into account the growing number of women graduates. Wouldn’t he want his business to be run by the very best candidates including those that can act as role models in future?

So, bearing in mind the reality in so many all male yet caring Boardrooms (but who don’t know how best to make the right gender decisions here) perhaps the short term and more feasible Board strategy could be to bring in female NEDs as a short term fix, with the specific mandate to identify and nurture future female Executive Director talent from within the organisation.

The Board could then have this as their stated medium term strategy and publish this in their annual report. An open, transparent, honourable, realistic, scheduled and truly measurable strategy that many women would recognise and appreciate as a reasonable way forward…

Before the EU might make them do this in 2020 anyway.

Steph Savill