Tomorrow’s Female Chairs and CEOs – Beyond “A Seat at the Table”

Focus on Boards is intense. Expectations are high and complexity has never been greater. Two critical roles for any Board are the Chair and CEO. Fidelio’s purpose is to search for and develop talented individuals who can lead organisations effectively. Significantly our “A Seat at the Table” Programme is establishing a pipeline of female Chairs and CEOs.  

The fifth iteration of Fidelio’s “A Seat at the Table” Programme in March 2018 will maintain this commitment. 

The Gender Gap 

While there has been considerable progress towards greater gender balance, including at Non-Executive level, the number of female CEOs and female Chairs remains stubbornly low.

Recent data has shown there are just 6 female Chairs in the FTSE100; in France and Germany, the CAC40 and DAX30 have just one female Chair respectively. At the Executive level, there are just 6 female CEOs in the FTSE100; the CAC40 counts one female CEO, and the DAX30 has none.

Fidelio is committed to building the pipeline for the female CEOs and Chairs of tomorrow through Search, Development and Evaluation.

The fifth iteration of Fidelio’s “A Seat at the Table” Programme is held 13th – 14th March 2018 and will offer insight into the key attributes of a successful CEO /  Chair, as well as practical guidance from experienced Chairs, Non-Executives and Executives. The dramatic setting at Leeds Castle, Kent, is the perfect setting to focus on career trajectories.

Tone From The Top  
Gender diversity at Chair level remains a challenge. Jokes abound on the number of Davids and Johns relative to the number of women leading FTSE100 Boards.

The “A Seat at the Table” Programme showcases the role of the Chair and the Chair’s perspective on key Boardroom issues. This includes Board composition and Board effectiveness against the backdrop of disruption and uncertainty.

We are delighted to be joined at the March 2018 “A Seat at the Table”Programme by Sarah Bates, Chairman, St James’s Place – one of only six female Chairmen in the FTSE100.

At the last “A Seat at the Table” Programme, held in September 2017, we were also joined by three Chairs:

  • Dr Harry Brunjes, Chairman, English National Opera
  • Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford, Chair, ActionAid UK; Chancellor, Coventry University
  • Dr Hilary Lindsay, Immediate Past President, Institute of Chartered Accountants

The key goals of “A Seat at the Table” are to explore what the Chair is looking for when building a Board and also to very clearly pave the way for tomorrow’s female Chairs.

The Female CEO 

Nor does gender balance at CEO level look significantly more promising. In the UK, the Hampton-Alexander Review has set a target of 33% female representation in FTSE350 leadership teams (including the Executive Committee and direct reports); it is estimated that 40% of all appointments made will need to go to women if these targets are to be achieved by 2020.

We are delighted that the March Programme will open with a keynote contribution from Denise Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Hampton-Alexander Review. Denise will give an update on the progress made to date in the UK, the renewed focus on the Executive layer, and importantly provide insight into succeeding to the top Executive role.


Everything I took from the Programme is actionable in my current role and beyond

CEO, Major Online Banking Subsidiary, Leading Global Bank


A number of “A Seat at the Table” participants are in major Executive roles with an ambition to secure the CEO role. “A Seat at the Table” supports them in that journey.

Fidelio’s Contribution: Building the Pipeline of Chairs and CEOs 

Fidelio’s “A Seat at the Table” development programme for senior female executives and directors will next be held on Tuesday 13th – Wednesday 14thMarch 2018 at Leeds Castle, Kent. There are still a limited number of places available for the March Programme.

Booking for the September Programme is also now open. This will take place on Wednesday 5th – Thursday 6th September 2018 at Leeds Castle, Kent.

If you are interested in joining Fidelio’s “A Seat at the Table” or would like further information on how Fidelio builds effective Boards and leadership teams through Search, Development and Evaluation, please contact or +44 (0) 207 759 2200.


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