Celebrating International Women’s Day; Driving Change

Yesterday the world celebrated International Women’s Day.

The benefits of greater gender balance are undisputed.

Fidelio is proud to play a driving role in increasing gender balance in Boardrooms and executive teams internationally through Search, Evaluation and Development. And we hold true to our mantra that there are enough good women.

Indeed, we regularly work with talented female Chairs, Non-Executive and Executive Directors across various countries and see the value they bring, including fresh thinking and innovation. Fidelio is also constantly investing in the pipeline for tomorrow.

Yes progress is being made; for example, the FTSE100 reaching 33% women on Boards, but there still remains work yet to do including too few female Chairs and CEOs and the stubbornly low numbers of female CFOs and CIOs.

Our Role

Therefore, International Women’s Day presented an opportunity for us all to take stock. Following on from last year’s update, Fidelio looked at some of our highlights over the past year and where we will continue to drive change:

  • Search is core to Fidelio and 40% – 50% of our placements are consistently female due to the calibre of our network and the rigour of our process. This was reflected in recognition by the Hampton-Alexander Review for the third year running for our contribution towards achieving gender balance on Boards and leadership teams in the category ‘Beyond FTSE 350’.
  • In all of Fidelio’s Board evaluations, whatever the sector, size and location of company, we explore composition of the top team, progress towards increased gender balance and diversity – not just at Board level. Critically we explore the role of the Board here and make practical recommendations – a very real opportunity to increase effectiveness and value.
  • The pipeline is key and in the 7th iteration of our flagship Board learning programme, A Seat at the Table”, Fidelio both empowered talented women to succeed and also included men for the first time. This was an excellent opportunity to explore the contribution of all Board Members to gender balance, diversity and effectiveness.
  • Fidelio promoted Board effectiveness internationally through all our activities and over the past year we maintained this momentum, including:
  • We are also recognised for our ability to convene business leaders, and Fidelio Board breakfasts in the past year have challenged and probed the Board’s role in building diversity, including:
    • “Women, Health and Leadership” with Prof. Dame Lesley Regan, immediate past President of the Royal College of Obstetricians. The breakfast shone a light on what’s working, and what more can be done to promote women’s health and the role that business can play. Women make up nearly half of UK employees, and what’s good for women’s health, wellbeing and productivity is generally good for men too.
    • “The Board and the People Agenda” with Pauline van der Meer Mohr, Remuneration Committee Chair of HSBC, Chair of EY Netherlands LLP and Deputy-Chair of Royal DSM N.V. We explored how the People Agenda is driving the Board Agenda and Pauline also introduced the memorable accolade of the “feisty finance Frau”.
    • “Employee Representation/Board Engagement with the Workforce”, took a deep dive into how FTSE Boards are responding to the UK Corporate Governance Code requirement for effective employee engagement with very evident implications for diversity.

Looking Forward

Fidelio remains committed to supporting leading organisations internationally to increase their effectiveness and valuation through embedding gender balance and diversity.  Diversity remains hardwired in all our assignments across Search, Evaluation and Development.

Fidelio’s “A Seat at the Table” Board Learning Programme prepares senior Executives & Directors to manage the complexity facing today’s Boards. Now in its 9th iteration (15th-16th September, Hever Castle, Kent, UK), this international Programme brings together highly experienced Chairs and Board Directors, along with governance and behavioural experts, to hone the leadership attributes and develop the gender balance and cognitive diversity  required in today’s Boardroom.

To learn more about moving the dial on diversity and improving gender balance at Board and Executive level, contact  Gillian Karran-Cumberlege.

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