Share

Charity women leaders not taken seriously by private sector boards

Lynne Berry
News

Charity women leaders not taken seriously by private sector boards

Governance | Kirsty Weakley | 15 Oct 2012

Six months in to a two-year programme to get seven of the voluntary sector's leading female chief executives on to private company boards, not one of the women has been offered a role. 

A lack of understanding about the skills and professionalism in the voluntary sector has been blamed for the fact that women charity chief executives are overlooked when it comes to appointments to non-executive director appointment in the private sector. A programme launched earlier this year by Cass Business School and NCVO aimed to get seven of the sector's top women onto private companies' boards.

Speaking to at a breakfast briefing on the subject this morning, participant and researcher for the group, Lynne Berry said: “Three [of the women] have had meetings, but none of these have gone anywhere. One has had the first stage of a formal interview but not heard back.”

Berry described those taking part in the programme as “board-ready”. The others are:

  • Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of RNIB
  • Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Womankind Worldwide
  • Sue Killen, chief executive of St John Ambulance
  • Dame Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam GB
  • Julia Unwin, chief executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust
  • Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children

The two-year programme is six months in and while Berry said “we are very much at the beginning of the process”, which includes seminars, dinners and keeping a diary of their experiences, getting senior figures in the private sector to recognise the skills and professionalism in the voluntary sector was proving difficult.

Berry also said that while some of the participants are still looking for roles now, others are now looking at taking on a non-executive directorship appointment in the future and others are considering looking to social enterprises rather than FTSE 100 companies.

She said that a male business leader described working in the voluntary sector as “just a little bit of charity work”.

She explained: “There are still those who have described working in the voluntary sector as toxic to their careers.”

Another businessman told her that he “could not believe that someone who was not primarily driven by profit could be on the board”.

Berry: 'We need new role models'

Berry said one of the key things the participants have learnt in first six months is that things in the private sector often happen at a “faster pace” particularly in areas such as acquisitions and mergers.

She also said that the women had found they needed to use “different vocabulary” and describe their work “in terms of the bottom line”.  

Berry concluded that: “I suspect until there are new role models we are unlikely to get very far.”

She pointed out that the often-cited example of Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children who was recently appointed to the board of BT, had a significant amount of corporate experience prior to joining the charity sector.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

CTG calls for VAT rebate scheme and gift aid reform to be part of Autumn Statement

20 Oct 2014

The Charity Tax Group is urging the government to improve the VAT system for charities in its Autumn Statement,...

Charity Commission won't take action against Society Network Foundation

17 Oct 2014

The Charity Commission will take no action against the trustees of Society Network Foundation, even though...

Charity Retail Association appoints new chief executive

16 Oct 2014

The Charity Retail Association has appointed Martin Blackwell, who is currently chief executive of the...

Charities 'must continue to fight for the right to influence policy'

20 Oct 2014

Civil society organisations must not give up the fight to influence policy and governments, the international...

Islamic Relief Worldwide income falls by £18m

20 Oct 2014

Islamic Relief Worldwide has seen its income drop from £100m in 2012 to £82m in 2013, according to...

Charity criticised after refusing to pay Ashya King’s parents' legal fees

17 Oct 2014

Kids 'n' Cancer UK has been criticised for saying it will not pay the legal fees of the family of Ashya...

Blackbaud launches online giving platform for individual fundraisers

17 Oct 2014

Blackbaud has launched its online giving platform, everydayhero, for fundraisers in the UK in a bid to...

Don't dismiss social media 'slacktivists', fundraisers told at IFC

16 Oct 2014

Charities should embrace and love charity ‘slacktivists’ because social is a great ramp for new donors,...

Nesta has made no grants to charities from its Impact Investments Fund

16 Oct 2014

Only 15 per cent of applications to a Nesta fund to invest in innovations to help older people, children...

Join the discussion

Twitter
 
Training

Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<