Now is the time for women to shine, say Harvey Nash and HKU

Hong Kong, 4 October 2016 - Upcoming Women’s Directorship Programme provides insights to help female leaders avoid being set up to fail during times of change

With women leaders increasingly being called upon to make a positive change, Harvey Nash, the global executive search and leadership consulting firm, and The University of Hong Kong Business School (HKU), have again joined forces to launch the Women’s Directorship Programme 2017, helping women to break the glass ceiling and support the development of female talent.

An increasing number of women are moving into positions of leadership. Theresa May now leads Britain, Angela Merkel was highlighted as the second most powerful person in the world by Forbes in 2015, and Hilary Clinton is the first female presidential candidate for a major party in the United States. While women are taking up an increasing number of high-profile roles, many of them have been selected to lead at moments of crisis or periods of weak performance, for example Marissa Mayer, in a phenomenon known as the ‘glass cliff’. Harvey Nash and HKU are supporting women to shine in these roles and ensuring they are not being set up to fail.

A 2013 study found that Fortune 500 companies with weak performance were more likely to promote women and minorities to CEO or board level. Researchers also speak of ‘status quo bias,’ where organisations only see a need to change patterns of male leadership if they are facing times of trouble. Rectifying this situation is one of the goals of the upcoming Women’s Directorship Programme, organised by Harvey Nash and The University of Hong Kong Business School (HKU). Covering two three-day sessions in May and September 2017, the event is designed to unlock the full potential of female executive talent in the international workforce and help them to shine. Initiatives such as the Women’s Directorship Programme are essential, as they take aim at negative practices and turn them into opportunities for women to step up and take on leadership roles in any situation.

Kirti Lad, Director of the Board Practice, Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC and co-founder of the Women’s Directorship Programme, said: “This so-called ‘status quo bias,’ makes it much tougher for newly promoted women to prove their talents. The Women’s Directorship Programme, in partnership with The University of Hong Kong, demonstrates Harvey Nash’s commitment to developing the global female talent pool and arming women with the ability to succeed in any situation. By empowering female leaders to gain the confidence and skills needed to secure board positions, we can have a lasting impact on the representation of women in leadership roles across the world.”

Now in its fifth year, the Women’s Directorship Programme has already had an impact, with thirty per cent of the programme’s alumni having since gained their first boardroom position, serving to make a lasting impact on the worldwide business community.

The programme is supported by senior business leaders, including Donald Brydon, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange, Rick Haythornthwaite, Chairman of Centrica and MasterCard and Raymond Ch’ien, Chairman of Hang Seng Bank, and a distinguished alumni network.

Donald Brydon, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange and Sage Group, Guest Speaker on the Women’s Directorship Programme, said: “Whilst we still have a long way to go in achieving boardroom equality, women are increasingly stepping into roles of power and influence. We need to ensure that when female leaders do break through the ‘glass ceiling’, they have the skills to thrive and make a lasting impact. The Women’s Directorship Programme is a catalyst for this change, bringing together academia and practitioners to share their wealth of knowledge and experiences, so that female leaders can excel.”

The 2017 Women’s Directorship Programme includes six modules, taught over two three-day sessions (May 25-27 and September 14-16, 2017):

  • Audit and Remuneration Essentials
  • Strategic Leadership and Networks
  • Persuasive Communication and Conflict Resolution
  • Stock Exchange Rules and Market Regulations
  • Board Simulation exercise - led by Donald Brydon, Chairman of the LSE and Sage Group
  • Ethics and Compliance

Professor Larry Qiu, Director of Executive Education, HKU Business School, said: "The Women’s Directorship Programme enables participants from different business sectors and cultures to develop the communication and management skills required to face the challenges of the boardroom.. By giving the participants access to boardroom insights and experiences of world business leaders, the programme ensures female leaders avoid the perils of the ‘glass cliff’ and sets them up for success."