“There was nobody that looked like me, no people of colour, or people from different backgrounds”…
BeOnBoard founder and CEO Kalpna Woolf recently spoke to NatWest Business Hub to talk about the first time she sat on a board and how her experiences have inspired ambitions to deliver the inclusive economy.
After more than 20 years at the BBC, culminating in her role as head of production for BBC Bristol, Kalpna Woolf found a new calling. Having taken her seat in the boardroom with an impressive portfolio of non-executive directorships, the founder and CEO of BeOnBoard is now guiding others to a place at the table, with the aim of making Britain’s boards more diverse.
Woolf took up her first non-executive role while working at BBC Bristol, where she oversaw food series including Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers and Nigellisima, as well as natural history and factual programmes such as Frozen Planet and Countryfile. “I was on the Business in the Community South West board. I’d never sat on a board, didn’t know what the board was. I met senior leaders from across the South West. It was really insightful learning from their experience. It was a moment of change for me. It increased my leadership skills dramatically, gave me a wider horizon and opened up new networks. It was also an opportunity to drive change for an organisation whose mission I felt aligned with.”
Woolf looked around for further opportunities, and found that, as an Asian woman, she was an anomaly in most boardrooms. “They were full of white, middle-aged, middle-class men. There was nobody that looked like me, no people of colour, or people from different backgrounds. It felt odd because Bristol is very diverse. It has professionals from all backgrounds – women and BAME – who have great skills that could contribute to boardrooms and to the decision-making that happens at this level. So I launched BeOnBoard. Our mission is to dramatically increase diversity on business boards and governance structures.”
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