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Glass ceiling? More like pipeline problems

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Glass ceiling? More like pipeline problems

The notion of the glass ceiling when it comes to gender equality in appointing board members is branded a ‘distraction’ in light of findings in a new report.

A  report published recently says that the real gender problem for Britain’s boardrooms is a shortage of women who are ‘board ready’ and that the glass ceiling debate is clouding the issue. The Glass Ladder report, from Bird & Co Board & Executive Mentoring, is based on interviews with 36 executive and non-executive directors of FTSE companies, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

Bird & Co Board & Executive Mentoring is launching The Glass Ladder, a programme designed to make women board ready. Isabel Bird, founding partner said, “There have been too many reports about glass ceilings which lament the lack of women on boards but provide no answers. When we spoke to directors, CEOs and chairmen, both men and women, we found the absence of women on boards is no longer a demand-side issue. Boards are willing to recruit women, but there is a supply problem. We have, therefore, initiated this programme as our call to action. We cannot do it all by ourselves, so we are inviting organisations to nominate one or more female executives to join the programme.”

Kathleen O’ Donovan, founding partner, said: “There needs to be a significant increase in the pool of women, and we believe there are women out there with enough experience who when mentored and specifically developed in this area will be classed as board ready. We are planning to do something about it.”

This year, Bird & Co Board & Executive Mentoring will coach, mentor, train and prepare 24 senior female executives but this is just a start. The company aims to prepare 100 women over the next four years. The Glass Ladder programme includes tailored one-to-one sessions, group workshops, case studies and tuition and is spread over ten months.

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