In 2016 in the UK, women outnumbered men by roughly 893,000. Moreover, nearly 50% of the world's population is female.

So why is it that women hold just 15% of board seats across the globe?

It's worth bearing in mind that this figure is up from 12% in 2015 so things are changing, albeit slowly, and corporate diversity is an increasingly hot topic. Still, a recent survey from the Women Corporate Directors Foundation uncovered a worrying belief among male execs that "there is a lack of qualified female director candidates."


Our own high-level placements tell a different story entirely. We have demonstrated they are out there but we can see that traditional search methods are failing to identify them. Brilliant leaders simply aren't being connected to the right roles.

How Nurole works for organisations looking to hire more diverse candidates for their board and senior executive roles.

Why is board diversity important?

Public companies

When FTSE 250-listed asset management company ICG wanted to find a top candidate with knowledge of the US market for their board, they were thrilled to hire Amy Schioldager, a former member of Blackrock's Global Executive committee based out in Los Angeles. However, says ICG chair Kevin Parry, "We simply wouldn't have found her in the UK using a traditional executive search process."

Unfortunately this is a pattern we see repeating.

There was no shortage of qualified candidates when JPMorgan Russian Securities hired rising star and first time non-executive Tamara Sakovska from Global Family Partners when they needed a non-executive director with experience of investing in the Russian markets. There was no shortage of great options when German based Zeal PLC hired Leslie Ann Read, the former CFO of Go PLC, as their audit chair.

Nor indeed was there a lack of choice for Standard Life Equity Income Trust when they appointed Caroline Hitch from HSBC Global Asset Management as a non-executive director. They sought a candidate with a record of achievement in their executive career, experience at board level, and familiarity with the investment world. And that's what they got.

FTSE 250 Merchants Trust PLC were so delighted with the quality of the candidates they saw that they couldn't decide between them and ended up hiring two new non-executive directors, including Reed Elsevier's Sybella Stanley and former Times assistant editor Mary Ann Sieghart. So too for FTSE 250 UBM's group HR director Eleanor Philips who hired Lucy Dimes as CEO EMEA to lead a digital transformation, having been pleased by the "reach, and the quantity and quality of responses".

Private companies

Some might argue public companies are under pressure to hire female board members but we are still seeing the same pattern emerging among private equity investors where no such pressure exists.

HgCapital thought they were looking for a needle in the haystack when they wanted an Italian-speaking chair with experience in the Italian telecoms market to support growth in their portfolio company Mobyt. Yet Tom Madison, head of Talent, was "astounded at the quality and breadth of candidates" when they hired Forbes 34th most powerful woman in the world and then CEO of Brasil Telecom, Carla Cico.

Inflexion needed a chief commercial officer for their investment company Ocorian, a regulated financial services business. They hired Claudia Rose, then sales director of a vehicle leasing business who stood out from all the other candidates for her innovative approach. It was a similar story for the privately backed Jockey Club Live who appointed Nicky Dunn OBE as chair.

And in the same way, when headhunter Lutyens Hutton used Nurole alongside traditional search to find a new CFO for Sir James Dyson's family office, Weybourne partners, they found it "unearthed some great wild cards and allowed us to spend more time assessing how each candidate matched up to our client's requirements." The result was a client "delighted by the quality and range of the candidates identified" and the appointment of Carrie Tucker, CFO of Gilo Industries.


The same pattern again emerges among non-profit organisations such as the Marshall Aid Commemoration Trust, the Winston Churchill Memorial Foundation, the Landmark Trust, the British Heart Foundation, Working Chance, Speakers Trust and the Oaks Academy Trust who appointed to their boards luminaries including Xenia Wickett (St Paul's Institute), Barbara Ridpath (Chatham house), Joanne Thompson (Penrillian), Dame Liz Fogan OBE (Arts Council), Daryl Fielding (Vodafone), Sue Round (BP), Fiona Wilkinson (Visa) and Joyce Walter (TUI travel).

Encourage natural diversity

At Nurole we don't believe in diversity for diversity's sake. The talent is out there. We simply believe that organisations should always seek to find and hire the very best candidate. All we can do is observe what we see happening at scale on our headhunting technology platform: if the net is cast wide enough, diversity is a natural outcome.

If you - like us - believe it's a myth that there aren't enough good women candidates out there, help us educate those still suffering under this misconception. Join us in celebrating International Women's Day by congratulating our recent successes and a selection of the hundreds of other brilliant women who have been appointed to board and senior executive roles through Nurole in recent months:

Zeina Bain, Beatrice Hollond, Kasia Robinski, Teresa Beach, Laurie Benson, Shivani Mathur, Pamela Coles, Kay Ashton, Jessica Mann, Elena Antognazza, Lesley Everett, Laura Bamford, Geeta Khehar, Lisa Barclay, Jackie Naghten, Sophie Gallois, Heather Maccallum, Sylvie Watts, Sally Cairns, Louise Moore, Lucy Wylde, Katrina Hart, Karen Brade, Carole Cable, Pamela Raynor, Francesca Arcidiaco, Sue James, Elizabeth Lynch, Lauren Miller, Mary Kerrigan, Louise Palmer, Rebecca Hunt, Jill May, Caroline Chang, Trudi Usher Boardman, Tracy Newton-Blows, Larissa Joy, Sara Luder, Miranda Richards, Julia Jordan, Evelyne Dube, Victoria Sant, Julia Le Blan, Christine Smith, Emily Morris, Jayne Barr, Hilary Wright, Victoria Rock, Kate Wilson, Catherine Wilson, Sarah Macaulay.

If you are looking for senior executive and non-executive director roles, Nurole's innovative recruitment platform can help.