NCVO and Cass to host events to help women on to boards

Charity chief executives invited to take part include Lesley-Anne Alexander of the RNIB

Lesley-Anne Alexander
Lesley-Anne Alexander

Six female chief executives of some of the country’s biggest charities will take part in a free seminar series for women about the possibility of serving on the boards of major companies.

Cass Business School and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations have invited the charity bosses to the events, which take place from April to June.

The two bodies organised the seminars in response to a 2011 report by Lord Davies, former chair of the bank Standard Chartered, which said there were not enough women on the boards of big companies.

The report recommended that boards also look outside the corporate world and bring in female entrepreneurs, academics and civil servants. But Cass and the NCVO also want businesses to bring female charity chief executives onto their boards.

The seminars will cover the key differences between private and voluntary sector board work, such as corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, commercial strategy and governance. There will also be dinner, sponsored by corporate recruitment firms, where the chief executives can meet people who recruit company board members.

The chief executive participants are Lesley-Anne Alexander from the RNIB, Jackie Ballard from Action on Hearing Loss, Sue Killen from St John Ambulance, Dame Barbara Stocking from Oxfam, Dame Clare Tickell from Action for Children and Julia Unwin from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. Lynne Berry, vice-chair of the Canal and River Trust and a Cass senior visiting fellow, will also take part and do some research on the participants’ experiences.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "We were pleased to be involved in this programme from the very beginning because it addresses two key issues – gender equality across UK plc and the contribution the voluntary sector can make to the decisions taken by our most successful companies."

Berry said: "The women we are talking about are extremely experienced at both executive and non-executive level on public and voluntary boards. Between them they have run some of the largest organisations in this country, but the corporate sector has been slow to recognise the relevance of their skills."

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