Through engagement with business leaders via the Guardian’s web-based Women in Leadership section, Lesley will underline the pressing need to create more diversity at the top of large organisations.
Her appointment comes as the latest report from the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders highlights how the drive to recruit more women to the boardroom is going in the wrong direction.
Over the last six months the percentage of female directors appointed to FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 boards has slipped to 26% and 29% respectively.
The report found that whilst women hold more than one in five (21.8%) of non-executive FTSE 100 posts they still only account for little over one in 17 (5.8%) executive roles. That means there are just 18 women executive directors in Britain’s top boardrooms, against 292 men.
Lesley commented: “Businesses that will lead the economic recovery and expand our export and international trade drive need to recognise and harness the female talent in their organisations. These figures show that many women need encouragement and confidence to explore different styles of leadership along with advice on how to better promote themselves.
“It is vital that more women believe they can aspire to the top jobs in UK businesses. It’s great that there are these new non-executive roles on the board; however we need more full board members. I wholeheartedly champion and encourage more capable women to take up leadership roles and hope my involvement in this leadership community will result in some positive changes in the international sector too.”
Harriet Minter, head of the Guardian Professional’s Women in Leadership said that support from Founding Executive Members will help make a strong case for change and provide inspiration for women currently climbing the career ladder.