Will it really take 70 years to achieve gender-balanced boardrooms in the UK?

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  • Institutional reform
  • Fellowship
  • Leadership
  • Social mobility

Guest blog by Carol Jackson, Chief Operating Officer, the RSA:

Lord Davies Women on Boards report

The RSA was pioneering, allowing women into the Fellowship from our founding in 1754. "Ladies as well as gentlemen are invited into this subscription, as there is no reason to imagine they will be behind-hand in a generous and sincere regard for the good of their country" – William Shipley, Founder of the RSA, December 1753

Lord Davies, in his government report, Women on Boards (PDF), sets out that “At the current rate of change it will take over 70 years to achieve gender-balanced boardrooms in the UK”. Also, “‘boards perform better when they include the best people who come from a range of perspectives and backgrounds.”

Boards perform better when they include the best people who come from a range of perspectives and backgrounds. - The Davies Report”

The current composition of the RSA Board is: seven male and five female Trustees, eleven White/British and one Ethnic Minority. The average age of the Trustees is 54 years. So we’re not doing too badly on gender balance, but could do better. As for age and background, there is definitively more work to do (only one Trustee is under 40 and even though we have Fellows across the world, no current board members are from overseas).

Next steps:

  • Are you a Fellow in good standing and willing to stand? We are looking to fill three elected posts on the RSA Trustee Board, to serve for three years as three current trustees are due to retire. You can find out more about the Trustee Board Elections 2013: What you need to know, and about how boards work linked below.
  • Want to encourage somebody else to stand? If they are a Fellow in good standing, be sure to share this with them – there is a Tweet button at the top… email also works.

We were ahead 259 years ago. By drawing on our foresight from back then, let’s see if we can help bring down the 70 year estimate to reach a better balance.

Carol Jackson is Chief Operating Officer at the RSA.

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  • I'm a fellow at the RSA and founder of Coalition for Efficiency - http://www.cfefficiency.org.uk... - a small charity devoted to helping other charities become more efficient and effective. We’ve developed a simple, practical and inspiring 2 page guide on how to be a good trustee. I believe governance is about compliance and controls, but good governance is above all about making sure that the charity is focused on its mission and meeting its charitable objects to the best of its ability.

    I am surprised why more people with expertise and a bit of common sense don’t become a trustee as part of their way of life. Not only can they contribute their skills, knowledge and experience to a meaningful organisation, but it is hugely rewarding and satisfying – professionally and personally - and fun.