UK Autumn Reception: Who is sitting in the Chair on the FTSE 100?

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The annual IWF UK Autumn Reception is an opportunity to connect with fellow members, meet prospective members and engage in a broader discussion centred on a topic linked to the IWF UK key purpose and mission. It did not disappoint.

The evening welcomed 72 attendees, including 21 guests, to discuss the Female FTSE Board Report compiled by Cranfield University. Did you know this is the 22nd annual report? It started in 1999.

The panel was chaired by IWF member Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, featured IWF UK Board member, Professor Sue Vinnicombe CBE, IWF UK Members Helen Pitcher OBE, Portfolio Chair and NED and Dame Inga Beale DBE, Portfolio Director and experienced CEO, involved in the 25by25 initiative.

Sue Vinnicombe shared how the figures are improving, critical mass is vital and yet women are still not getting the seriously influential jobs on the Board. Despite some terrific progress, there are still only seven female CEOs in the FTSE 100. Inga Beale praised Sue’s perseverance and stressed the importance of networks as she explained her work to improve the number of female CEOs. Inga also shared her challenges on gaining a CEO role and the difficulties she noticed for women once in post. Helen Pitcher explained how her research at INSEAD led to her taking on an initiative to improve the number of women appointed to chair organisations. This piece of work resulted in a ten-point plan with Helen noting the importance of sponsorship and the need to move past outdated ideas that women are not ready or have not served enough time in executive roles.

IWF UK members’ comments included:

“There’s a need for those currently in power to be prepared to give up at least some of that power, so there’s sometimes a gap between espoused theory and theory in use.”

“Although diversity of thought is important in the boardroom, I think it is important to recognise that race remains an incredibly difficult area to address. Given the change in the demographics of major cities in the UK, gender at the intersection with race is hugely important, and urgent.”

“Fabulous evening - and wonderful to see all these female leaders in one ‘room’ empowering each other to make CHANGE!!”

“Bold AND supported…that’s what we are about as a network.”

Jeanette Cowley, IWF UK Board member

To watch a recording of this event click here to be directed to the Members only section of the website and find it within the event write up in Members News (Rightside menu bar)

Helen Pitcher OBE, Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, Dame Inga Beale DBE, Sue Vinnicombe CBE
L-R: Helen Pitcher OBE, Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, Dame Inga Beale DBE, Sue Vinnicombe CBE