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Women boost boardroom effectiveness, says report

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A new report has revealed that female board members are not only are more driven than their male counterparts but they are keen adopters of team working, training and mentoring practices.

The study: 'Board Dynamics - a female perspective,' offers an insight into the views of female board directors of FTSE 100 companies and found that although many of the characteristics of successful female board directors are the same as for their male counterparts, women themselves felt they were less ego-driven than men and committed to the organisation’s goals rather than their own agenda.

The women were also asked their views on training and development and many felt that not enough weight is given to performance management, development and assessment. Coaching and mentoring and external courses were suggested as ways of clarifying responsibilities, expectations and liabilities.

The report also highlights the characteristics of successful women directors: Social intelligence, courage and resilience, breadth of view and energy and drive. It also examines the less successful characteristics including low self confidence, perfectionism, telling executives how to do their job and challenging or aggressive behaviour.
Helen Pitcher, chairman of IDDAS who conduced the study commented on the findings: “With a growing crescendo of voices for more effective challenge and openness at Board level including Harriet Harman, Trade Minister Lord Davies and The Walker Review, the women who spoke to us comprising almost a fifth of all female board directors on FTSE 100 companies, clearly identified their ability to challenge effectively, leave their egos at the door and the sheer diligence of their effort, make a real difference to this agenda.  In particular their qualities would seem the ideal profile for effective NEDs and as a matter of urgency and necessity we need to actively facilitate their inclusion in greater number on many more Boards.”

Other findings included the fact that female directors felt their professional lives were ‘made easier’ by having more than one woman on a board as it normalised their presence, turning them into ‘a director’ not ‘a woman’.

“Less than 11% of FTSE 100 board directors are women” continued Pitcher. “Women clearly add huge value to the boards they sit on. Organisations should be more creative in the way they evaluate the particular combination of skills, experience and personal qualities an individual brings to the board.”

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