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Why women?

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels" Faith Whittlesey

This quote just about sums it up and additionally, the business case for more Women Board Members is backed by a growing body of evidence as discovered by Lord Davies in his report, Women on Boards.

Woman Board MemberResearch has shown that strong stock market growth among European companies is most likely to occur where there is a higher proportion of women in senior management teams, specifically as non executive directors of the board.

Women on Boards in the UK

It was found that companies with more women on their boards outperformed their rivals with a 42% higher return in sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity, which is a compelling argument for any Chief Executive or shareholder to campaign for more female non executive directors.

Despite this evidence, women are specifically and unjustly under-represented on the company boards of UK plc as non executives.

In 2009, it was found that only 12.2% of directors of FTSE 100 companies were women, and on the boards of FTSE 250 companies the proportion was just 7.3% which could suggest that non executive directorship vacancies were not even being applied for by potential women board members.

By 2010, these figures had moved to 12.5% for FTSE 100 and 7.8% of FTSE 250 but the overall mix of executive and non executive directors remains largely the same and furthermore, the pace of change remains far too slow, despite a range of initiatives aimed at training, mentoring and supporting women to be “board ready”, and projects undertaken by companies to address organisational issues.

Violet specialises in preparing women board members to be ready to contribute and meet the challenges of today's boards of directors seeking to appoint female non executive directors.

Asian Woman Board MemberThe issue is the richness of the board and non executives as a whole, the combined contribution of a group of people with different skills and perspectives to offer, different backgrounds, experiences and life styles and who together are more able to consider issues in a rounded, strategic way and offer an attention to detail not seen on all male boards which often think the same way given their similar natures and experiences and sometimes make poor decisions as a result.

It should be said that a major factor driving boardroom behaviour is profit and growth alongside shareholder return. Research illustrates the positive impact that women’s contribution to the boardroom can make to the bottom line profitability of the company’s finances, and positively associates gender-diverse boards with improved performance. Similarly, women board members are often key in staff retention and reducing staff turnover which represents an unnecessary cost to most companies.

Appointment of Non Executive Director

The whole issue presents an opportunity to progressive Boards seeking to appoint female non executives and to experienced women board members who would like to contribute but don't know how to break into the board room.

Mark Mills, founder of Violet, can help to match non exec directors and companies efficiently and effectively to help boost profitability and provide recognition to the female non executives who help to deliver greater shareholder value. Mark can be reached directly on 020 7989 7989 at his London office.

What makes an exceptional Non Executive Director?

Qualities of successful Non Executive Directors

Every Director has a positive role to play and should make a distinctive contribution to the board in order to provide entrepreneurial leadership and direction.

Successful Non Executive Directors are likely to share a number of key skills or attributes which they bring to the role, which are likely to include:-

The right character

All Non Executive Directors should act with integrity and always with the best interests of the company and its shareholders in mind. They should be independent of the business and avoid conflicts of interest. They should have a commitment to continual self improvement, in order to best fulfil the role.

Experience and authority

Relevant business and/or life experience will greatly assist a Non Executive Director in contributing to board and committee meetings and otherwise in the role, providing them with recognisable authority and the ability to readily demonstrate their skills and build confidence and respect.

Sharp mind, a strategic thinker and good judgement

Non Executive Directors are often overloaded with information and paperwork and need to quickly take all of it on board and possess the skills to identify the issues at hand. The ability to think strategically and to exercise good judgement, when aware of all of the facts, is likely to be essential.

Able to see the big picture

Every Director needs to understand the company’s business and the context within which it operates. As Non Executive Directors are not involved in the day to day operation of the business they need to possess the enthusiasm, energy and drive to quickly get to grips with the business and keep up to date with developments in order to appreciate the significance of their actions.

Team player

Non Executive Directors need to be respectful of the role of the executive Directors and the role which the board requires of them and recognise that they are part of the team leading the business. Those that possess good interpersonal skills are likely to be readily accepted.

Excellent communication skills

Non Executive Directors need to communicate efficiently and effectively so that their position can be readily understood. A significant part of the role is likely to involve listening to and participating in debate, but may also involve liaising with staff and the company’s professional advisers.

Enjoy a challenge

Non Executive Directors should enjoy tackling problems and not be afraid to participate in difficult decisions. They should possess the confidence to constructively challenge and if they do not follow a point they shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

Focused and prepared

Non Executive Directors need to focus on the business and devote sufficient time to preparing for and attending meetings. They need to be well briefed and anticipate points before they arise and appreciate that a good deal of their time devoted to the role outside of board and committee meetings is unlikely to be recognised, financially or otherwise.

If you have the skills or the inclination to acquire the requisite skills through Violet's Training Package, call Mark Mills today on 020 7989 7989 and find out how rewarding the role of a Non-Executive Director can be.

Relevant Articles
» BIS Review of Women On Boards
» City AM: Women Board Members Lift Share Price
» Eversheds LLP: Smaller and more diverse independent boardrooms required for success
» Vince Cable: City passivity and prejudice is still sidelining women

Relevant Downloads
» Financial Reporting Council Consultation Document: Gender Diversity on Boards
» Violet Feature in Sunday Times Article (See Page 6)
» The Board and HR Summary Report by David Creelman & Andrew Lambert
» Investors demand diversity plans (Daily Telegraph 22nd September)
» Cameron claims victory for women in boardroom (Sunday Times 16th October)
Violet - Non Executive Director Recruitment
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