The old boys’ club that dominated corporate life in the 1980s is still alive, according to Anna Daroy, the interim director general for operations at the Institute of Directors (IOD).
Ms Daroy described Brexit as a “risk mitigation” issue for businesses and said she supported plans to improve transport connections across the North of England.
Ms Daroy, who has been a member of the IOD for 15 years and has worked as a partner at professional services firm EY, made the comments during a visit to Leeds to meet Yorkshire IOD members.
Speaking before she attended a meeting of the IOD’s Woman on Board group, she said: “There has been the old boys’ club over the years and that has resulted in certain behaviours at board level and in organisations.
“I’ve had this as a topic since the 1980s when I started my career. It’s still an issue today. Thirty years later we are still talking about it, which surprises me personally. “
However, Ms Daroy, who has provided advice to Government about transport and homeland infrastructure security, said that diversity was now at the top of the agenda for management.
She added: “It’s about diversity and inclusivity generally that is making management and boards aware of what they need to be looking at in a balanced way, and where the best skills for the job are going to come from.
“Governments in other countries have put in quotas. I’m not in favour of quotas because I think you can do it for the wrong reasons.
She added: “You’ve got to balance capability around the management table. If I look at our own (IOD) board, we are very diverse in every sense of the word.”
“We’ve managed to get the right skills in place from a very complementary set of individuals.
“We have our own academy for directors around skills. It’s also about companies having programmes to educate and upskill their staff.”
She said that the IOD’s conversations with members about Brexit related to “the uncertainty of how they trade” and the impact potential border controls could have on perishable goods.
She added: “Where we are with Brexit is, ‘wait and see’.
“We don’t know what we don’t know at the moment. It’s a risk mitigation issue...By managing and understanding that risk you start to reduce the uncertainty around how you trade.”
She added: “Being more responsive on a local level is critical. The IOD is going through a decentralisation (process) as part of our own operation.”
She added: “Connectivity in any sense of the word..is all fundamentally important to allow businesses to grow, respond and react, quickly to the changing markets, whether that’s in the United Kingdom, in Europe or further afield internationally.
“The businesses we have coming forward all have those international reaches.
“Connectivity in the UK.. to get supplies from North to South, South to North, East to West, making it easier for businesses to trade is absolutely critical.”
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the director general of the IoD was stepping down after less than two years in the role,
Stephen Martin, who joined the IoD in February 2017, said that it was “the right time” for him to move on. The business lobby group said he was stepping down to allow new leadership to oversee the next phase of the IoD’s transformation programme.
Ms Daroy was appointed as director general for operations, while the IOD continues to search for a new director general.
Anna Daroy is an experienced senior executive director and board member,
She has worked in both private and public sectors for 30 years, leading organisations through complex change and turnaround across multi-cultural and political environments.
Her successes include growing operations across the US and Europe, Middle East and Africa and leading international business operations with revenues of up to £13bn.
Ms Daroy has worked with senior world leaders and is a non executive director for a number of private and public boards.