Review of ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Boardroom: the Roadmap’ by Anna Allan, FCIPD, director HalsAllan Ltd. (This review was featured in People Management 24th July 2008)
"If you read only one book this year, make it this one. Whatever your role and gender I guarantee the ideas explored in only 120 pages of pragmatic text will bring rich rewards.
This book is a companion volume to one written in 2005 in which the authors documented a compelling case for increasing the number of women on FTSE boards. It is a response to repeated requests for a roadmap of how this might be done. As such, it is insightful, concise and very readable. The practical style ensures benefits for the reader, both personally and as a guide to taking corporate action.
While it is an acknowledged fact that women are raised differently from men, the implications for the way women tackle corporate careers often tend to be overlooked. Corporate boards are predominantly male and it is men who set the unwritten and unspoken rules of how to reach the boardroom. As might be expected, much of this book focuses on helping women to understand the rules so they can engage on a level playing field.
Less expected, but welcome, is the underlying message that once they know the rules, it’s not necessary for women to behave like men to succeed. Indeed, the authors assert it would be foolish to try, since this places women in a double bind where they cannot meet social expectations either way. The considered advice is to be authentic, something which is increasingly echoed in leadership literature. Of course, the converse is that male board directors must be open to valuing women’s authentic experiences and strengths, even where these differ markedly from those of men. I liked the non-judgmental tone, suggesting that, while male culture is often seen as the obstacle, men’s obstructions are rarely conscious. The key for both sexes is to challenge outmoded thinking.
Particularly heartening for ambitious HR professionals is the suggestion that boards re-evaluate the function as a potential source of candidates. HR is predominantly a female profession and this is likely to have considerable implications for the type of people likely to be attracted to the function in future. In the meantime, colleagues who read this book could find it life changing".
Meet the author clip: http://www.palgrave.com/media/boardroom.asp
The Female FTSE Board Report 2010: Opening Up the Appointments Process, International Centre for Women Leaders, Cranfield School of Management: Vinnicombe, Sealy, Graham and Doldor
Download 100 Women to watch report