Skip to main content

23/12/14 10:00

Increasing diversity on boards

Training and mentoring key to achieving 50:50 gender balance by 2020.

More training and mentoring opportunities are key to improving the diversity of Boards across Scotland, according to research published today.

A review by Napier University commissioned for the Scottish Government found that improving mentoring and social networking between existing and potential female Board members is an effective approach to improving board diversity.

The review also found there is a need for greater public awareness on the role of Boards in society, on reporting Board diversity and for greater transparency when advertising vacant posts.

Looking at the number of women on Boards internationally, the review noted that countries that have used legislation or implemented gender quotas have achieved higher levels of female boardroom membership than those that have adopted voluntary approaches.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights Alex Neil said:

“We want a fair and equal Scotland for everyone. We are leading by example with a 50:50 gender balance in our Cabinet and I am keen that we now see all Boards become more representative of our society.

“There is no doubt that businesses and organisations benefit if they have more diversity on their boards and this review of evidence gives us a good insight into the strategies and policies needed to make that happen.

“We want to work collaboratively to ensure women get a fair opportunity, and have the confidence, to apply for more positions on Boards and achieve our aim of fully balanced, representative Boards by 2020.”

Notes to editors

The Main Report is available at:

The Executive Summary can be viewed at:

The Scottish Government will launch a Partnership for Change pledge in 2015 to challenge all organisations to set a voluntary target for gender balance for boards by 2020.

In Scotland, women account for 36 per cent of the members of Ministerial appointed, regulated public boards. This figure varies significantly by the type of public board. Health boards, Executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) and Advisory NDPBs have the highest percentage of female representation on their boards. Public corporations and executive NDPBs fell below 20 per cent for female board membership.

Currently the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to introduce gender diversity quotas onto boards.

The Smith Commission report published on 27 November stated: “The Equality Act 2010 will remain reserved. The powers of the Scottish Parliament will include, but not be limited to, the introduction of gender quotas in respect of public bodies in Scotland.”