IoD chairman Lady Barbara Judge hailed this year’s Annual Convention for featuring the most female speakers in the event’s 66-year history.
Among those speaking at today’s event included First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Dame Kelly Holmes, Martha Lane Fox, award-winning global economist Dr Dambisa Moyo, Alibaba’s UK MD Amee Chande, Vivian Hunt from McKinsey & Co and chair of Land Securities Dame Alison Carnwath.
Addressing an audience of business leaders at the Royal Albert Hall, Lady Judge said, “2016 saw the IoD hold more female specific events that in any previous year. This year I chaired a panel event aimed at demystifying the public appointments process to women in the private sector. I also held a roundtable encouraging women in public positions to take on private sector board roles.
“We held our annual women in business conference which has been running for several years and continues to go from strength to strength. We also held a Celebration of Exceptional Women party which to date has brought both our current Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor into the IoD to see what it is that we are achieving here.”
Lady Judge also praised GlaxoSmithKline for being the latest FTSE 100 company to appoint a female CEO, Emma Walmsley.
“Yes there are still twice as many men named John who are CEOs or chairmen of FTSE 100 companies as there are women of all names but progress no matter how slow is better than none.
“Indeed while progress may be slow in the private sector, the political world is making great strides.
“We had the honour today to hear from the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the first woman to hold the position. Indeed in Scotland the leaders of the SNP, Labour and Conservative Parties are all women.
“This year the Rt Hon Theresa May MP became the UK’s second female Prime Minister and the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss was appointed our first female Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary.
“Europe’s largest economy, Germany, is led by Angela Merkel and the International Monetary Fund by Christine Lagarde.
“The Federal Reserve in the United States is run by a woman, Janet Yeller and come November she may well be reporting to a female president, Hilary Clinton.
Lady Judge added, “I am proud to say the IoD has joined this venerable group by appointing its first female chairman.
“Your daughters and young women around the world can look to these senior women for inspiration and realise that there is no office too high to be held by a woman.
“Although there is always more work to be done, the world is changing and business, politics and the IoD with it.”
Lady Judge also announced the launch of the IoD Academy.
“The IoD Academy will have a physical as well as digital campus, enabling you to enhance and maintain your skills anytime and anywhere,” she said.
In what has, at times, been a turbulent year for British business Lady Judge said she was ‘proud’ of the stance the IoD has taken in ‘highlighting bad practises and reacting to failures in governance.’
“This past year has seen a catalogue of failures in corporate governance. The examples of Sports Direct or BHS show that when things go seriously wrong the impact is felt well beyond the boardroom.
“The promotion of better directors and better business is central to the Royal Charter, which guides the IoD. The Charter may be 110 years old, but its emphasis on high levels of skill, knowledge, competence and integrity in UK directors could not be more relevant.”