Improving the future diversity of Boards and the bandwidth of Non-Executive Directors

“The Board Academy exemplifies what we are passionate about, [at Anchura] innovative yet practical solutions that help companies to address both immediate business problems

and plan for a more successful future”

Paul Ford, CEO, Anchura


The Board Academy is a unique programme to develop a more diverse talent pool of future executives and non-executive directors (NEDs) in the UK. This is achieved by providing practical hands-on Board experience to corporate talent whilst providing essential support to FTSE NEDs in their increasingly demanding roles


The programme is for FTSE 350 companies, leading professional services partnerships and other organisations who wish to support their NEDs, improve their pipeline for Board succession, develop their talent pools and make a positive contribution to increasing the diversity of future executives and NEDs in the UK.


The Board Academy provides a structural, market based solution to the diversity challenge (Executive & Non-Executive) whilst providing independent support to busy NEDs to enhance their productivity and challenge.

“While this programme will help companies develop their talent pipelines and support their NEDs in terms of greater bandwidth and independence, it’s real enduring value is in making NED roles more accessible and appealing to a more diverse pool of future talent.”

Lisa Worley, Managing Director, Board Academy


Many UK Boardrooms have a challenge to address their lack their diversity in order to better reflect UK society and keep up with general progress in the diversity, equality and inclusion arena. Many UK companies are also keen to benefit from the positive example set by, and better decision making, that a more diverse Board can often provide.


The recent Hampton-Alexander review indicates that while some progress has been made and the numbers of female non- executive directors in the UK has been increasing, the lack of representation of females in executive roles makes further progress and succession a significant challenge.


The average age of NEDs in the FTSE 150 has marginally increased over the last decade and according to the recent Parker Review many leading UK companies have failed to give adequate attention to ethnic diversity.  It recommends that all FTSE companies should have at least one director of colour and that companies should develop candidates for the pipeline and plan for succession. It asks Board Chairs and Directors to mentor and/or sponsor people of colour within their own companies to ensure their readiness to assume senior managerial or executive positions internally, or non-executive Board positions externally.


There is a clear expectation that UK companies will take proactive steps to increase the diversity of their Boards, not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but also background, age, experience and skills. To do this they will also need to develop their candidate pipelines and create succession plans.


Ultimately Boards will need to be more transparent and demonstrate their efforts to increase diversity in their annual report and disclose if they have met composition recommendations or explain why not.

“Essential to the effective functioning of any Board is dialogue which is both constructive and challenging...One of the ways in which constructive debate can be encouraged is through having sufficient diversity on the Board. This includes, but is not limited to, gender and race. Diverse Board composition in these respects is not on its own a guarantee. Diversity is as much about differences of approach and experience, and it is very important in ensuring effective engagement with key stakeholders and in order to deliver the business strategy.”


(April 2016)



 “The percentage of women on Executive Committees has stagnated at 16% for the second year...Disappointingly, there has also been a drop in the percentage of women on executive committees in FTSE 350 companies that hold P&L roles.

This is adversely affecting the opportunities for companies to appoint female executive directors to main plc boards and decreases the likelihood of creating more female FTSE CEOs.”


NEDs are under increasing pressure as the demands of the role continue to grow, with the time commitment increasing and additional risk and regulatory requirements to meet, against a backdrop of ever increasing scrutiny.


Many NEDs lack any resources to support them in their Board role to help provide insight into key issues and risks, research new and emerging themes and provide administrative support. For NEDs who are also serving Executives and therefore do have access to support resources, many do not necessarily feel it appropriate to use this support for their NED roles.


There is often an information and expertise asymmetry between executives and non-executives on Boards. The executives are immersed in the business and have teams and resources which the non-executive does not have in an independent capacity. The non-executives are very often reliant on information and analyses provided by the executives and are at risk of being ‘managed’. In order to challenge properly and balance this asymmetry the non-executive should have access to the appropriate support and research resources to provide the bandwidth to effect and demonstrate that challenge.

“Non-executives on Boards can be placed at a significant disadvantage in terms of knowledge and capacity compared to the executive Board members. And while they have the right to access resources for independent opinion, the process of going

about this can often be onerous”

Ian Ewart, Anchura Board member and NED

"As an executive I was incredibly well resourced,

with support teams in place and a range of specialists readily available to help me get to grips with any issue. As a non-executive director I am virtually unsupported.”



Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) will be allocated a Chief of Staff (CoS), a dedicated resource (part-time) that provides operational support for the Board role.


The CoS will review Board papers and provide insight to the NED. They may be allocated tasks (research), be invited to attend Board meetings and be asked to contribute insight to Board discussion.


The CoS resource pool provides a greater diversity than the average FTSE 350 Board composite and Boards can set specific criteria for CoS candidates in order to add complementary skills or meet requirements for long-term talent development and succession.


The CoS is not a Board Director and has no responsibilities or liabilities as a director or shadow director.


“In the Army our Chiefs of Staff were very much our talent in waiting: executive leaders in their own right, being exposed to the next level of thinking in order to prepare them for further advancement.

Anchura’s Board Academy is employing this concept to support non executives on FTSE Boards - it is a brilliant idea."

General Sir Peter Wall


The Board Academy will provide multiple benefits for recipient Boards and participating companies. It will deliver individual benefits for NEDs, bring diversity to the boardroom and create an invaluable development experience for Chief of Staff candidates who will become the highly trained and experienced NEDs of the future.

Recipient Boards
Sponsorship of a structural market solution to diversity
Increases the capacity of current NEDs to be even more impactful
Provides additional expertise and diverse perspective
Potential for long-term succession planning
Programme is Independent
Demonstrably balance Exec/NED information assymetry

Increase personal bandwidth to focus on challenge and insight
Additional expertise and diverse perspective
Matched to a CoS with complementary skills
Mentoring and training a potential NED of the future
Access to a valuable Resource Centre for research
Personally supporting a structural market solution to diversity

Corporate Schemes
Corporate Schemes
Talent development through hands-on experience
Industry insight
Develop FTSE Board relationships
External mentoring for talent
Brand awareness amongst a network of future business leaders
Contributing to a structural market solution to diversity

Chiefs of Staff
Mentoring from an experienced NED
Insight into a FTSE Board agenda and operation
Personal development
Develop FTSE Board relationships
Join a unique talent network of future business leaders
Support future career opportunities


There are two ways for companies to get involved:

1. As Board participants - Chairs can agree to provide independent Chiefs of Staff to their non-executive directors for a modest monthly fee. The fee covers candidate screening, training and provides ongoing access to the Resource Centre.

2. Corporate memberships – Companies can put forward Chief of Staff candidates drawn from their own talent programmes (to be screened by The Board Academy). There are two levels of membership depending on the number of candidates companies wish to put forward.


Rash is Head of Sales at The Board Academy and Head of Sales & Structuring across the Anchura Group. Rash formerly held several Managing Director positions within RBS, where he was most recently Head of Strategy Implementation and Global Equities COO. Rash specialises in implementing front-to-back business strategies and COO best practices that enable business change and optimisation and deliver effective day-to-day business management. As a former frontline COO Rash has first-hand experience of the better decision-making a more diverse leadership team can provide.

Rash Phullar,

Head of Sales

Lisa leads the Board Academy and also provides advisory services to Boards and Executive teams on marketing strategy and client experience.

Prior to joining Anchura, Lisa held senior marketing and business development roles at Ashurst, Barclays and EY and has served on the Executive Committees of Ashurst LLP and Barclays Personal Banking and was a member of Barclays Global Investments Council.

Lisa has been a mentor to women in the financial and professional services sectors for more than a decade.

Lisa Worley,

Managing Director

Ian is a Board Member and Non-Executive Director of The Board Academy.  Ian is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and has 30+ years’ of experience of working in top tier banks and asset management companies including Coutts, Bank of America and Barclays Wealth.  He has extensive experience of operating at Board and Executive Committee level and served on Remuneration, Budget and Audit committees.

Ian Ewart,

Board Member and

Non-Executive Director


The Board Academy is part of the Anchura Partners Group, a unique consultancy with a proven track record of solving business challenges and driving all aspects of change. Established in 2010, Anchura has been built on our ability to operate within complex environments – and our passion for delivery and results. We work with companies to overcome their immediate issues and future-proof their business models, arming them with the concepts and solutions they need to flourish in years to come.


Our distinctiveness is in our people and our approach. With clients ranging from some of the world’s most established investment houses and FTSE 100 companies through to emerging international banks and UK start-ups, we pride ourselves on our reputation as a trusted partner to all those with whom we do business.