Women and Leadership: Closing the Gender Gap

13 and 14 September 2011

Day 1

Time Description

9.45 - 10.30am

Registration and coffee

10.30 - 11am

Welcome address: Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University, Liz Coffey, Managing Director, Spark Leadership Ltd. and Shami Chakrabarti, Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University.

Video-message from Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission.


Plenary sessions chaired by Dr Simonetta Manfredi, Oxford Brookes University

The Business case for increasing women’s representation on corporate boards has been made. This morning's sessions will focus on the recommendations of Lord Davies report, commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and the different approaches taken outside the UK designed to close the gender gap.

11 - 11.40am

Increasing the number of women on FTSE 100 Boards: Initiatives for Change - Professor Susan Vinnicombe, OBE and Jacey Graham.

  • Susan Vinnicombe, OBE
    Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Diversity Management, Director of the International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield School of Management. She was a member of the steering group that supported Lord Davies’ review.
  • Jacey Graham
    Director, Brook Graham Ltd. Co-author of ‘A Woman’s Place in the Boardroom: the Roadmap’. She has particular expertise in building female talent pipelines in large organisations and acts as an advisor to the UK FTSE 100 Cross Company Mentoring Programme.

11.40 - 12noon

Question and answer session

12.00 - 12.30pm

Gender quotas for corporate boards in Norway: innovative gender equality policy - Dr Mari Teigen

Mari is the Research Director at the Institute of Social Research in Oslo. Norway was the first country to introduce a quota for women on company boards leading to an increase of 40 per cent of women representation. She is co-author of the report on Women on Board: Quotas Key to Success.

12.30 - 1pm

Question and answer session

1 - 2pm


 2 - 3pm

Interactive breakout sessions

Delegates can choose one of the following sessions:

  1. The Role of the Headhunter in influencing gender diversity on Boards.
    Panellists in this session will discuss their experiences of placing women at company board level and as senior members of executive search firms. They will address some of the following questions:

    • To what extent the Davies report has begun to have an influence on recruitment patterns of women to company boards?
    • How can senior women from outside the corporate mainstream be brought into the recruitment process as recommended by the Davies report?
    • What advice can be given to women interested in becoming board members?

    Discussion chaired by Sally Rowley-Williams who leads Rowley Williams Limited, and the panel will include Deborah Loudon, consultant at Saxton Bampfylde and Fiona Vickers, Global Sector Leader for Heidrick and Struggles Media.

  2. Work-life balance: still an issue?
    Research on the impact of work-life balance initiatives on employees' experiences has consistently identified a prevailing gap between policy and practice in most organisations. Is there evidence of positive culture change a decade after the government introduced a work life balance campaign in 2000? How can this help women achieve senior roles?

    Discussion chaired by Joanna Foster, CBE, Chair of the Craft Council, formerly Head of the Equal Opportunity Commission and of the National Work-Life Forum. The panel will include Pam Walton, researcher and consultant on work-life balance, and Sara Thornton, CBE, Chief Constable Thames Valley Police

  3. Realising women's potential - voluntary measures or quotas?
    Recent research from Cranfield School of Management shows that since the Lord Davies report the number of women appointed to the FTSE 100 boards has increased significantly. However, in spite of this encouraging progress women remain under-represented on company boards. Will listed companies achieve the voluntary target of 25%? Should the UK follow the example of other European countries and introduce quotas? Panellists will discuss how organisations can tackle the diversity gender challenge.

    Discussion chaired by Liz Coffey, Managing Director, Spark Leadership Ltd. The panel will include Suzanne Hughes - HR Director, Policy, Employee Relations and Engagement at Santander UK, Sara Hill, Founder and Managing Director, Capability Jane Ltd., a company that helps organisations to increase the number of women in senior roles, and Melanie Richards, Partner in Debt Advisory Services, KPMG.

3 - 3.30pm

Refreshment break

3.30 - 4.45pm

Question Time

The day will conclude with a ‘Question Time’ panel with women holding senior positions across different sectors. The panel will be chaired by Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. Delegates will have the opportunity to put their questions to a panel of women holding senior positions from across different sectors. Panelists include:

4.45pm - 5pm

Concluding remarks for the day


Conference dinner

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