Appoint on merit to avoid gender battle

Published: 10 Oct 2014

Behind the closed doors of a boardroom, powerful individuals are focused on making strategic decisions, applying corporate governance and managing risk. Fundamentally these individuals must be competent professionals of the highest calibre, who bring to the table a diverse range of skills, experiences and characteristics.

However, it has long been recognised by UK and international business communities, as well as governments, that there is a distinct under representation of women on company boards. Female representation on FTSE 100 boards currently stands at 20.7% and 15.6% on FTSE 250 boards, as noted by Lord Davis – Women on boards Davies Review Annual Report 2014. The gap has been attributed to barriers including, but not limited to, family commitments, ‘the old boys club’ and stereotypes which ultimately prevent women from reaching senior decision making roles.
 
Although progress has been made over the years to increase the female ratio, it has been suggested that the introduction of quotas will assist in alleviating the global trend of male domination on company boards. Conversely, it is argued that imposing board quotas only further undermines a woman’s ability to progress her career on merit.  
 
Changing corporate culture
 
In response to this recurring discussion, global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company produced a series of ‘Women Matter’ research reports which explore the role women play in the global workplace, their impact in senior-executive roles, and the performance benefits that companies gain from gender diversity – the findings of which identify corporate cultural as playing an integral part in gender diversity.
 
This culture change is one that Survivex has embraced, with a female cohort forming 60% of its Board of Directors.
 
Andrew Green, CEO, Survivex, said: “At Survivex, we don’t make board appointments based on gender, rather we focus on merit and credentials. We currently have five exceptional individuals on the board, three of whom are female.
 
“The Survivex board requires a collective effort and is a source of shared authority. Our directors are professionals who are highly experienced and qualified in their respective fields. We have assembled a complementary group of skill sets and built a dynamic team, positioning the board as a strategic asset to the company.
 
“Survivex encourages women to progress their career – when filling a role, gender is never a consideration, our stance is if you can do the job the role is yours. Issues such as succession planning are a key part of our business and talent needs to be recognised. I wholly agree that diversity should be encouraged at every level of an organisation and appointments should be made on the credentials of the individual in question.”
 
Breaking the glass ceiling
 
Since establishing its world-class survival and safety training facility in Aberdeen in 2011, Survivex has experienced substantial growth. The company has trained over 130,000 candidates, seen employee numbers rise to 100, has trebled its turnover in the last three years and has subsequently increased its number of board members.
 
Recently appointed Human Resource (HR) Director, Lisa Flint, has over 15 years HR experience across consumer business and the oil and gas industry, during which time she has gained her Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) qualification and membership.
 
Having held the position of HR Manager since Survivex’s formation in 2011, Lisa was promoted to HR Director in July 2014. Commenting on her new position she said: “Achieving director status is a massive achievement for any career driven man or woman. Like most people, I started my career in junior support roles, nevertheless it was a clear goal of mine to increase my levels of responsibility and progress to hold positions of seniority.
 
“In its very nature, Survivex is a forward thinking company that not only ensures it delivers a quality training service to its customers but also encourages innovation and leadership from employees. Even so, career progression doesn’t just happen, regardless of gender it requires hard work, determination, commitment and sacrifice.
 
“The challenge for a woman to achieve a director appointment is compounded by working in the oil and gas industry which is notoriously very male dominated, however women bring with them different leadership styles and perspectives and these need to be embraced for the long term growth and success of any business.”
 
Survivex’s operations director, Carole McLennan, boasts over 17 years experience in offshore survival and safety training, playing an integral role in the day to day operations of the business and Health & Safety.

She said: “Each director possesses a breadth of experience, strong personalities which require good listening and persuasion skills, and strategic focus.
 
“The significant growth Survivex has encountered is forecast to continue and as directors we must remain flexible and responsive to change, with a global outlook.
 
“Women in industry have always had to prove themselves but it’s refreshing to work for a company whose culture addresses the imbalance of gender diversity and is helping to crack the glass ceiling holding women back from board positions.”

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