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Diverse Directors Programme

RBW Consulting and Venture Building Fund, Start Codon, are proud to announce an important
new initiative that aims to increase diversity at senior levels in the Life Sciences sector
– the Diverse Directors Programme (DDP).
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What is the Diverse Directors Programme?

The Diverse Directors Programme (DDP) is a Director/Non-Executive Director (NED) development programme, designed to help bring about meaningful change. We aim to provide opportunities to those who may previously have been overlooked for Director/Non-Executive Director (NED) roles, or who may not have felt able to put themselves forward in the past. The DDP will bring together RBW and Start Codon’s respective skills, knowledge and experience to help address the diversity gap at senior levels in Life Science organisations. The programme will comprise practical experience and comprehensive training – utilising an experiential platform – for those looking to make the step up into a Director or NED position.

Two women in conversation

Why have we created this?

Boards play a pivotal role in shaping an organisation's strategic direction and overall success, and diverse board members bring a wealth of perspectives and expertise to decision-making processes.

By finding and nurturing diverse NED talent, and creating opportunities for those whose lack of direct experience has held them back, change can happen.

Emma Thorp, Chief Commercial Officer at RBW said: “In the recruitment industry, we’re well aware of the challenge of people hiring in their own likeness – whether consciously or subconsciously. Through the DDP we want to demonstrate the value of bringing people with different experiences, backgrounds and ways of thinking into these senior roles, as we know the positive impact this has on company performance.”

Research and experience have shown that capable and diverse individuals are out there, but they may lack confidence, experience and/or opportunities to advance into Director/NED role. By giving real-life board experience, alongside everything else on offer, this programme aims to remove the barriers to becoming a NED.

Emma Plowman, Talent Director at Start Codon said: “While the value of diverse leadership teams is increasingly recognised, the progress in boardrooms is too slow. We want to create real opportunities to build up the skills, confidence and experience of people who aren’t currently sat on boards, but who absolutely have the potential to make a significant contribution to the Life Sciences sector in the UK and beyond.”

The DDP aims to bridge the gaps that exist today, by providing a unique blend of skills training, mentoring, coaching and real-world experience – including board observer placements and mock board exercises.

Two men in conversation

What will the programme focus on?

The programme’s primary focus will be on enhancing participants' knowledge and confidence, as well as providing real-life board experience. Classroom training will cover core areas, such as board governance and responsibilities, financial acumen, communication and crisis management, leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The pilot cohort will consist of up to 12 people and last for three months and will be delivered through a mix of virtual and in-person sessions, and will be followed by a six-month observer placement.

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Sign up to support

We encourage industry professionals to support the DDP in various ways including:

  • Individuals who align with the programme’s aspirations are encouraged to express an interest.

  • Founders and senior leaders willing to share their experiences, offer mentorship, or provide observer positions are invited to reach out.

  • Organisations seeking to enhance board diversity are encouraged to collaborate and explore opportunities.

  • We are also eager to receive recommendations of where talent has been spotted but an individual may not have the confidence to put themselves forward.

We are so excited about the potential of the Diverse Directors Programme and eagerly anticipate its full launch later this year. We extend our gratitude to all those who have contributed to making the program happen – watch this space!