News and Views

Dealing with a strong CEO

Seven DO's and DON'Ts from our Directors' Circle  

We were extremely grateful to Sharon Baylay for sharing some of her thoughts on this topic.  She led an interesting and wide-ranging discussion, pooling the expertise and experience of the Women on Boards subscribers around the table.

Read full article (September 2018)



Reaching your potential or just limping along                    6th September 2018

How to bring strategic thinking into your organisation  

 

We've all come across those organisations which are, at best, limping along, with employees always under severe pressure and thus never realising their potential. The difference between them and the market leaders is all too often in the quality of their strategic thinking. According to UGM Consulting (UGM) 'most organisations engage in strategy planning and publish their strategies but are not necessarily strategic'.   Their strategies are more operational-type plans, generated by a corporate process or via an unimaginative away day. They might look good but in fact only contain a high degree of certainty with no capacity for unexpected surprises - nothing like the real world!  For some top tips and to read Fiona Hathorn's full article click on this link.

 

Circumstance matters more when it comes to Ethics                              1st September 2018

Interesting new research, The Princeton Experiment, shows that circumstance has a significant influence on individual behaviour and conduct, implying that it is more than just character that matters. So what ‘circumstances’ are executives and boards creating as regards the culture of their company? This research shows that the 'character-and-code' approach to culture does not stand up to scrutiny. Interestingly it is because of various financial scandals over the last 10 years that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is shining a spotlight on culture and making one of its main areas of focus/priorities. To read about this research click on this link.




BANKING CULTURE AND DIVERSITY IN THE BOARDROOM MATTERS                    19TH aUGUST 2018

Data matters so I was pleased to read some new research this summer (2018) by Ann Owen, Professor of Economics at Hamilton College (Clinton, New York), and Judit Temesvary, a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, which shows yet again a link  between diversity boards, in this case, US holding bank company boards. I believe this to be a very useful data-driven piece of research, particularly for the financial services sector, because it shows that diverse teams (if well managed) help improve the culture of a company and leads to better decision making (as long as conflict is managed well and resolved). To read WOB's full thoughts and views on this new research click this link.


turning off the spotlight, and turning on the floodlights               

How you can use the revised FRC guidance to push for open recruitment on your board. Read more


help us improve our support for you                                                                  1st august 2018

We support each stage in your non-executive journey but to offer you the best suited opportunities, we need a little information about you. Please complete some key fields in your WOB profile - see full article for details. 


THe FRC's revised Code - Fiona's Views                                                                   23rd July 2018

The long awaited, revised, Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) corporate governance code has now been published and is available within WOB’s Resource Centre.  This new code, according to the FRC, has been designed set ‘higher standards of corporate governance to promote transparency and integrity in business as well as attract investment in the UK for the long term, benefitting the economy and wider society’. To read our views and find out more click on this link.


Are you looking for new Board members? 

PLEASE help us spread the word and let's help corporate UK get more diversity on their boards

Since our launch in 2012, Women on Boards UK (WOB UK) have advertised 12,000 roles, taken 2000+ support calls and enabled over 1,200 of our subscribers get on boards. Check out our OnBoard Success log via this link; https://www.womenonboards.net/en-GB/About-Us/OnBoard 

It is FREE to advertise board roles on our website. If you want to know how our vacancy board works then click on this link; https://www.womenonboards.net/en-GB/Services/WOB-Vacancy-Board

Let's make a difference and make sure boards know we exist. Spreading the word is the only way to do this so your help would be gratefully appreciated.  We have 23,000 members including 7,600 paid subscribers who receive our unique 1-to-1 support applying for roles.

So given it is free to advertise roles to our community then WHY wouldn't you advertise your board roles on our website, small and large? By advertising roles with us you are widening the net of potentially interested candidates for your board. We see it at as turning off the the spot light, which is currently on the obvious candidates, and turning on the flood lights to the whole of the UK....... and it works!

Below are just a few of the companies that we have found NEDs for over the last few years.

  • Wells Fargo International
  • Tesco Bank
  • BNY Mellon
  • Nomura International
  • Saffron Building Society
  • Perpetual Income and Growth Trust
  • Euroclear Bank 
  • Credit Suisse AM
  • JP Morgan Investment Trust
  • Ford Credit Europe
  • Manchester Met. Uni
  • Financial Reporting Council 
  • HMRC
  • ++++++++++

Many of the above companies, quite rightly, used a headhunter to create their long list of potential candidates, but crucially they have been open and appreciative of the enabling support from WOB UK (helping the applying candidate with pre-interview support and or by advertising their roles). Click on this link below, from the government, to see where we are today as regards achieving the target of 33% for FTSE 350 boards. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ftse-350-urged-to-step-up-to-meet-2020-women-on-boards-targets. We need to do more and you can help by spreading the word.

Corporate UK needs a course on ‘How to disagree without being disagreeable’


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Diversity and inclusion if done well leads to equal opportunity. Corporates need to do more to change their culture in a bid to ensure they are more inclusive and are collaborative in meetings so that those with ideas, and different views, have the opportunity to speak. 

Research shows that for teams to ‘fight then unite’ they need to have a trusting and open environment. Performing teams rarely happen by accident, they are usually lead by effective leaders who know how to engage, disagree, listen, conclude and then task.  
 
Very few companies invest in collaborative leadership below the C-Suite. Sadly it is the ‘permafrost’ layer below the C-Suite that can act as a block to inclusion because this group, in general, it seems have no idea how to be more inclusive.
 
Just having more women sitting in the boardroom is good but it will not necessarily deliver the desired outcomes as regards better profits and leadership below the board.
 
Divisional leaders need education and investment to be sure they have the skills to unlock the potential asset afforded by different perspectives, otherwise the asset remains untapped, unmined and unused, according to Margaret Bryne (Leadership Consultant with UGM Consulting). Margaret points out that there is evidence that, minus these leadership skills, diversity can increase conflict, misunderstanding and mistrust.
 
Margaret's ‘filmed’ corporate leadership research shows that Anglo-Celt males with remarkably similar backgrounds to each other dominated the business critical problem solving and decision making tasks she filmed. Basically she found that people were not thinking together in any meaningful way.
 
I agree with Margaret Byrne when she days that diversity by itself delivers no particular benefit and can even lower performance. To perform well as leaders people need to add to their diverse teams the skill set that underpins thinking together in a collegial way that benefits the task at hand, in particular the skills involved in disagreement. After all disagreement is as a step in the route towards agreement.
 
So corporate UK I believe should invest in their leaders below the C-Suite and possibly provide them with a course on ‘How to disagree without being disagreeable’! Having a diverse team that has a range of skills, is business critical so why not invest in helping your leaders and managers disagree with each other?


Drive for more female CEO's Stalls, according to The Sunday Times

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/drive-for-more-female-chief-executives-stalls-v8wsn7zwz

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In order to get promoted in big companies, women typically need to be significantly better than men, a chameleon in nature and very visible. 

Promoting anyone out of their comfort zone involves risk. Consequently, promoting people with a different background, who do not look like the incumbent leaders is extremely hard for anyone. Historically the women that have succeeded are significantly better than their male counterparts. These women have also been able to break into male-dominated networks with ease; something that men, in general, do not have to work at.

To ensure 'change,' large companies, in my opinion, need to invest in collaborative leadership skills training for the  CEO -1 level, something that I call the permafrost. Because it is this level (divisional leaders) who are currently, often unintentionally, acting as blockers.

Collaborating successfully within the C-Suite, and close to it, is substantially different from collaborating with other teams in an organisation. As a result, senior teams and boards can often be ‘nominal’, rather than ‘real’ teams.  Unfortunately, many at the top fail to appreciate the differences and are not open to women joining them.

To ensure women have nailed the language of interview and can 'win' at a C-Suite stretch interview we run a leadership programme called 'Getting to the C-Suite'. For more information, click on this link and get your company to sponsor you to attend!

Gender Pay Gap Reporting - What now? (11 Apr 2018)

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Following the publishing of the UK’s corporate Gender Pay Gap data, a number of our individual subscribers, who are not corporate members, have been in touch to ask ‘what now’? They have seen their company’s top line numbers, are not impressed, and are wondering what they can or should do to further the careers of women/minorities in their companies. Too many are telling us that they have no further information on their division’s, or department’s gender pay gap data, and are fearful of asking for a breakdown for a whole host of reasons. What now => tips and trick article for you, Link.

Why is visibility important? 

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If you are visible, managers tend to think that you are more committed to the organisation and therefore to your career.  However the research shows that commitment can come in different packages.  According to UGM Consulting and their research “not everyone – for reasons of gender culture or personality – feels at ease being visible and using assertive impression management tactics to increase their visibility”.   Good leaders recognise this and know that you need to recognise talent and reward ability in all its manifestations, not just one and not just yours. 

UGM ’s research shows that visibility, like it or not, is pivotal in most successful careers because to get to the top you need to be seen to be capable and committed.  The vast majority of women find that they are excluded from influential male networks, often unintentionally, and this can hit hard at promotion prospects by restricting knowledge and connections. This is as true in the executive world as it is in the non-executive world and is a key reason why Women on Boards (WOB) exists.  These are a few of UGM’s tips and research insights;

1.    Make sure you know your managers KPI’s (key performance indicators)
2.    Build a dynamic network and remember it’s not just about numbers of people 
3.    Use every opportunity to connect with others …………. imagine everyone you meet is your friend
4.    Take advantage of those small-talk opportunities at the margins of meetings
5.    Prepare well for meetings and make reasoned arguments whilst being visible!

For UGM Consulting’s full article on ‘How to unlock opportunities by being more visible’ then click on this link.  As an organisation WOB work alongside UGM.  With their knowledge and support we run workshops called ‘On Track for Success’, ‘Managing your Career’ and ‘Getting to the C-suite’, the latter a 6 month modular leadership programme (info link).  If you would like WOB to run an in-house ‘careers’ workshop for your organisation (men included), then please connect with contact@womenonboards.co.uk or visit this website page link.

Getting to the C-Suite, why do women find it so hard?

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There are multiple reasons why women struggle not only to get promoted but even to get interviewed for vital ‘stretch’ jobs. For starters, they don’t usually look like the incumbent leaders, which sadly means they are less likely to get interviewed than the male candidates who are often younger versions of the existing leaders.  Research shows that women are in general more collaborative in style, and as a consequence may answer interview questions sounding more like managers than leaders. Further, women often have less ‘inside information’ than the male candidates, which makes it much harder to position themselves convincingly as the best candidate.   
Today, most progressive organisations want .............. To read Fiona's full article about Getting the the C_Suite then click on this link.

Transforming Culture in Financial Services

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The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are finally getting serious with regard to the need for boards to outline and understand their company’s culture. Read my full article here about company culture and what you should be doing as a board member. 
 


Does your company operate a 'Zero Harm' policy on psychological safety?

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As Directors you are probably well aware of the importance of Health & Safety but have you thought about your responsibilities around employees' psychological safety? Read the full article here on phychological health & safety and some of your responsibilities around this.