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Advance HE programme to support diversity in the boardroom secures three years of funding from Wellcome

31 Aug 2023 | Advance HE Wellcome to fund 'Success on the Board' for people from underrepresented groups in higher education and research

Advance HE’s development programme supporting and encouraging diversity in the boardroom will continue for another three years thanks to funding from Wellcome. 

Success on the Board is a programme for staff in UK higher education and research aimed at unlocking the power of underrepresented voices on boards, governing bodies and committees. Following two successful pilot cohorts designed, delivered and evaluated by Advance HE, Wellcome has agreed to fund the programme for a further three years. 

Victoria Holbrook, Advance HE Assistant Director, Consulting, Governance and Insight, said, “A diverse range of voices, experiences and behaviours enhance the effectiveness and culture of the boardroom but as we know from our report Diversity of governors in higher education, women, those from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic community and disabled people are currently underrepresented on university and research institute boards. 

“I am delighted that Wellcome has agreed to fund this critically important programme to support and encourage these groups of people to help strengthen the efficacy of boards and governing bodies across the sector.” 

Sophie Demellweek, Senior EDI Practice Officer (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), Wellcome Trust, said, "Ensuring that people in governance and leadership roles represent society is an essential part of creating an inclusive research sector. Wellcome believes that creating inclusive research environments will increase the impact of research for more people.

"Success on the Board supports people from underrepresented groups to apply for non-executive board positions in the sector through skills development, mentoring and coaching – so we’re really excited to be funding a further three years of the programme."

Outcomes and impact 

Following two successful pilot cohorts, Advance HE produced a comprehensive evaluation report, clearly outlininghow the programme impacted participants.  

In its first year, the Success on the Board programme met its intended learning outcomes, with participants showing improved board knowledge, skills and confidence as well as increased board aspirations and achievements. 

  • 63% of participants stated that they had submitted board applications since engaging with Success on the Board. 
  • 80% of the participants who mentioned having never applied for board opportunities in the pre survey had done so in the post survey.  

The evaluation showed that the biggest improvements werein participants’ perceived knowledge of how boards operate and the selection processes for board positions. 

Find out more here.

Feedback from Success on the Board programme participants

Success on the Board came around at a time when I was struggling to find my place as a young professional in universities. It's empowered me to continue to ask difficult questions about both myself and my 'brand' and the institution's strategy. (Participant, Cohort 1)

This is a dynamic and exciting programme, with vital opportunities to learn skills alongside a cohort of inspiring colleagues, and gain real-world experience that will proffer opportunities to unlock the impactful power of underrepresented voices. (Participant, Cohort, 1)

If you think you know what a Board is, how they work and how to be effective on them - think again. This programme will fill in gaps in your knowledge, understanding and skills you did not know you have. (Participant, Cohort 2)

Success on the Board has taught me so much about strategic thinking and group dynamics. It has introduced me to interesting ideas to reflect on, given me practical approaches to apply and opened my eyes to future opportunities. (Participant, Cohort 2)

Participants of Cohorts 1 and 2

Find out more about Success on the Board

Applications for the next cohort of Success on the Board will open shortly. You can register for updates here

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