2 February 2017
In contrast to the corporate sector, we know there are serious shortcomings in the gender balance and representation of black and minority ethnic staff in university senior teams and higher education boards. Executive search firms play a key role in senior recruitment, but there is little evidence about what works well in terms of how they present diverse shortlists, overcome unconscious bias and deliver on university diversity strategies.
This is the first independent study of the role and relationship of executive search firms in and with higher education. Funded by Hefce and Hefcw and carried out by Professor Simonetta Manfredi, Oxford Brookes University, it examines the role of executive search firms in the selection and recruitment process for senior appointments in higher education institutions and in particular in relation to the need for increasing the representation of women and black and minority ethnic groups. It reveals they play an important, but perhaps opaque role and raises questions about the boundaries of accountability for equality and diversity outcomes and the extent to which universities, as the client, challenge the process.
Professor Fiona Ross, director of research, Leadership Foundation said: “Diversity in senior leadership teams is linked to better organisational performance. Tackling homogenous cultures of leadership is increasingly seen as a challenge in higher education. We welcome the findings from this research as executive search firms play a large role in senior appointments, but little is known about their contribution to building diversity for organisations.”
The report will be launched at an evening event taking place on Monday 20 March 2017, University of Liverpool in London, 17.30-20.00. The event will be chaired by Professor Janet Beer, vice-chancellor, University of Liverpool and chair of the Equality Challenge Unit, who will lead the panel discussion on the key findings with Margaret Ayers, director of human resources, Queen Mary’s, University of London alongside a chair of governors and a director of an executive search firm.
To book your place at the research launch, click here
Notes to the editor
About Leadership Foundation Research
Our research and innovation activities focuses on the core challenges affecting leadership, governance and management of higher education. Our work synthesises, analyses and evaluates leading edge thinking to assist and support our members and the sector face the challenges of unpredictable futures. Our mission is to be recognised both in the UK and internationally as the most distinctive source of innovative and challenging thinking about leadership in higher education.
To find out more the Leadership Foundation’s research including our latest tenders, please follow this link: www.lfhe.ac.uk/research
About Professor Fiona Ross CBE
Fiona leads research and thought leadership with a particular focus on generating learning for organisations on ‘what works’. Fiona has a background in community health and social policy and has worked as practitioner, teacher, research leader and senior manager over a 35 year career in higher education. To find out more about Fiona, please click here