Following discussion on the composition of boards in the private sector, a new report looks at the gender-balance on higher education governing bodies. The report published by WomenCount has an index showing the proportion of women represented on individual governing bodies. The index shows marked differences between institutions. For a small number of governing bodies females make-up 50% or more of governors, whilst at the other end of the spectrum a number of institutions have a representation of 20% or less. Overall women occupy 32% of all the seats on higher education governing bodies.
The report draws attention to the fact that females form the largest proportion of higher education students, and the benefits gained from having more balanced boards.
With HEFCE having included the monitoring of board diversity in the recent annual monitorng statements required from English institutions, questions relating to the diversity of boards are likely to receive increasing attention in the future.
Issues for governors
Anthony Goodman, a partner at Tapestry Networks, has suggested (Financial Times, 23 January 2013) that board composition is replacing remuneration as the topic of the day for boards. Citing problems around ‘incumbency’ (a lack of new appointees to US boards), dysfunctional directors and diversity, there is greater pressure to keep boards refreshed. As a result, Goodman expects calls for an increasing diversity of directors –‘younger, more female and more global’ – to grow.
The Leadership Foundation has commissioned new research into governance in higher education. Three studies on key issues and policy developments, a literature review of published work on governance and perspectives relating to academic and corporate governance are underway. Further information on the studies is available by clicking here. The findings of the studies are expected to published in spring 2014.
For more information about Governance including the Governor Development Programme contact:
Professor Dianne Willcocks CBE
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Governance Web Editor
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To access materials from previous Governor Development programmes click here.
The model of governance used by Foundation Trusts was recently dicussed at a recent Governor Development Programme event. Information about the governance model used by Foundation Trusts can be found by clicking here.