Strategies to increase nominations for gender parity

There are many factors that influence gender parity on boards. One of these factors relates to the recruitment of board directors, and the policies and practices that underpin this process. Specific barriers to gender parity have been identified to enable you to design processes that ensure more women are applying for board positions.

Ways to address systemic barriers for gender equality

  • Vision/strategy: There exists an authentic vision for diversity and inclusion, and a clear roadmap for change.
  • Governance: There is senior level oversight of diversity and inclusion, and appropriate resources have been allocated.
  • Leadership: Leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion, behave inclusively and are held accountable for outcomes.
  • Systems and processes: Inclusive talent management processes support the attraction, engagement and retention of diverse talent.
  • Specific initiatives: Interventions targeted at specific demographic groups are employed.
  • Data and metrics: Data and metrics are regularly monitored to measure performance.
  • Branding and culture: External communications, partnerships and actions reinforce leadership commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Examples of barriers to gender parity

One of the key strategies that can help you to take responsibility and change the status quo is to recognise the barriers and establish a plan to overcome these. This includes actions for decision-makers, board members and recruiters. Our research has identified the following specific barriers to gender parity:

  • Informal networks: Personal recommendations can result in candidates sourced through informal networks comprised of individuals similar in terms of background and gender.
  • Narrow searches: Traditional search processes are often restricted to traditional corporate pathways or sectors dominated by men.
  • Gender biases: Informal criteria and generalised assumptions regarding female skills, characteristics and attitudes towards board positions are often influenced by gender-based biases.
  • Process barriers: Candidate searches conducted using outdated tools may produce unsuitable candidates.
  • Legislative barriers: Statutory requirements governing the specific composition of the board (e.g. qualification requirements) may inhibit gender parity in industries that are male dominated.

While recruiters are not responsible for the appointment decision itself, they play a key role in identifying potential female candidates and can influence the candidate pool in various ways. If you want to improve the recruitment process to attract more women to your boards, please consider the Action planning section for recruiters.