Six of the sector’s leading female chief executives have been chosen to take part in a series of events aimed at creating links between talent in the voluntary sector and FTSE company boards.
The events, which are being organised by NCVO and Cass Business School, have been developed in response to Lord Davies’ 2011 report on the slow rate of progress towards gender diversity in FTSE 100 and 250 boardrooms.
In his report Lord Davies argued boards could be strengthened by adding senior women from government, academia, the professions and entrepreneurial backgrounds.
With the new initiative, Cass and NCVO plan to demonstrate that the voluntary sector is also a vital talent pool.
The events, which involve six female charity CEOs, start in April, and will include a series of seminars covering subjects key to private-sector board work which differ in the voluntary sector. These include corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and the latest thinking in commercial strategy and governance.
Sessions will be followed by working dinners where the group will be joined by relevant City invitees. The meals are sponsored by executive search firms, who will be represented, giving the seminar participants opportunities to network with the people who fill private sector board vacancies.
Cass Dean, Richard Gillingwater CBE, said: “Although there are positive examples such as BT’s appointment of Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of Save The Children International, to its main board last year, there is evidence that FTSE 100 boards do not always have a good grasp of how big the challenges of running a large voluntary organisation are.”
The six participants are:
• Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of RNIB
• Jackie Ballard, chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss
• Lynne Berry OBE, vice-chair of Canal and River Trust
• Sue Killen, chief executive of St John Ambulance
• Dame Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam GB
• Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children
• Julie Unwin CBE, chief executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust
Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, has long called for more charity sector involvement on private sector boards.
At the start of the year, Sir Stephen wrote to Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, calling for more charity CEOs to be appointed to company boards.
And in 2000, as part of the Tyson review of corporate governance, Sir Stephen argued that having more charity sector leaders on corporate boards would inject a strong voice for and ethical and sustainable business approach.