Project aims to get more women on top boards

A leading HR director has today helped to launch a new project to get more women into the country’s top boardrooms.

Sally Bott, HR director at BP, will jointly head the ‘Women on Board’ project seeking to provide a bigger pool of female directors for FTSE 100 companies.

Bott will work alongside Anna Mann, co-founder of head-hunting firm Whitehead Mann and senior partner at MWM Consulting, and Anna Ford, the former newsreader who sits on the board of Sainbury’s.

The project will look to provide women with professional development opportunities and a ‘distribution network’ of companies actively looking to diversify their boardrooms. The focus will be on providing training and mentoring programmes to get women ‘board ready’.

Launching the project, Mann said: “Gender does not play a part in meritocracy, but at a time when boards are under even greater scrutiny, women can bring fresh perspectives and valuable diversity of thinking.

“The challenge is to help talented women gain their first non-executive role, and hence develop the capabilities that will equip them to move on to bigger boards over time.”

Research produced by MWM Consulting showed women occupy just 15% of FTSE 100 directorships and 9% in the FTSE 250. Almost a quarter of companies in the FTSE 100 have no female directors.

Female directors including Helen Alexander, president of employers’ body the CBI and a non-executive director of Centrica and Rolls-Royce, have also agreed to participate in the scheme by mentoring candidates shortlisted for new boardroom roles.

Women’s campaign group Fawcett Society recently called for female quotas to be introduced to ensure women were fairly represented on FTSE 100 boards.

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