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Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Newly appointed Chair of the Board of the CIPD, Louise Fisher, shares her priorities for her new post and talks about supporting women who want to progress to leadership roles


Louise Fisher is HR Director at Xerox where she holds Board accountability for a multi-billion dollar business, providing leadership of the HR function across Europe. She is also the Chief Ethics officer for Xerox Europe, managing the required governance processes.

Louise Fisher
Louise Fisher

On 22nd April 2015, the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, appointed a new Chair of the Board. The CIPD Council appointed Louise Fisher as Chair of the Board as Dean Royles stepped down after six years in the role. 

What does it mean to you to being taking over as Chair of the Board of the CIPD?

Personally, it is a great honour. I am delighted to have been appointed. I am looking forward to becoming a member of the CIPD Board again, having left the board at the end of my term as a Non-Executive Director 12 months ago.

The role of the Chair is to lead the Board in setting the strategy for the CIPD, working closely with and supporting the Executive team. The CIPD has a number of hugely challenging projects going on and my role, along with the rest of the Board, will be to ensure we provide support, guidance, challenge and good governance.

Do you feel a special responsibility as a woman in a board chair role?

No I don’t feel any special responsibility because I am a woman, although I am delighted that the CIPD now has a woman as President, a woman as the Chair and with our new Board appointments, 50% of the Board are women.

It would be great to see such high levels of female participation on more Company Boards. It is something I feel passionate about and I am delighted to be taking over the Chair role at such a time.

The recent Davies Review update for 2015 identified that most of the increases in women on boards were in non-executive roles rather than executive positions on boards. How can the CIPD help other women to progress to senior roles on boards?

The CIPD has called on the government to set new targets for boardroom gender diversity for 2020, building on the 25% of boardroom positions target set by Lord Davies for 2015. The new target should be for 40% of directors to be women and 20% of executive directors to be women among FTSE 100 organisations by 2020.

We’ve also urged businesses to accelerate the pace of change for female representation on boards, calling on them to adopt the same voluntary target of at least 20% female executive directors by 2020.

Our latest research on boardroom gender diversity explores perspectives on female representation as well as practical strategies for improving gender diversity at the top of organisations.

You can find out more here.

How can male colleagues get involved in supporting women who want to make it to senior leadership roles?

In my view, this is something that each place of work can facilitate. One of the ways to do this is to encourage and enable high potential talent to do voluntary work for personal development which provides them with relevant experience. For example, allowing your employees to take on roles in schools and colleges as governors, working on local community projects, taking on a non-executive role in a charity or hospital etc.

A second example of something male colleagues can do is to encourage women to take more career risks and therefore open up different career opportunities. I’d love to see all young professionals work abroad, learn languages, experience different cultures. It’s probably easier to do this earlier on in your career and so I’d love to see male colleagues encouraging their high potential talent to take the risk to do this early on in their career.

Thirdly, I’d like to see male colleagues try to improve the confidence in their women colleagues where they see it lacking. Typically women will look at a role and see what she can’t do; her colleagues can help by pointing out what she can do, giving her some inner confidence and helping her to go for it!

How can Womanthology readers tap into the resources of the CIPD, even if they don’t work in HR?

The CIPD offers a wide array of freely available fatcsheets, research reports, podcasts and events, which non-members can access via

What are your priorities in your new role moving forward?

My first priority is learning the job, getting quickly to grips with what’s on the Board’s agenda and what Peter Cheese and the Executive team are working on.

My second priority is to ensure that our new board members receive an induction programme to enable them to quickly get up to speed in their new roles.

After that, it will be to continue building relationships with the Board and Executive team, the regional branch chairs and the rest of the CIPD Council to ensure the CIPD continues to work towards our mission to champion better work and working lives.

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