ENCOURAGEMENT: Helen Cook of Royal Bank of Scotland is chairing a new high-level women's networking group.
The Scottish steering committee of The Two Percent Club is being chaired by Helen Cook, human resources director at the corporate banking division of Royal Bank of Scotland.
While she is confident the number of female executives can be increased, she believes there is a need to improve the talent pipeline of women equipped to thrive in boardroom roles.
Ms Cook suggests a need for more flexible working patterns and better mentoring for women throughout their careers.
She said: "This is about women and commerciality and the commercial benefits being pushed by having the appropriate pipeline of male and female talent in all industries.
"If we do this right, longer term, then you get the commercial pipeline right to balance gender on boards.
"Any analysis you look at will tell you balanced boards, not just women but diversity in its wider context, are better performers.
"That is the long-term aspirational aim. In the interim it is about creating a pan-industry network where people can thrive."
Research by The Herald earlier this year showed 37 out of 242 board positions at Scotland's top 30 publicly quoted companies were filled by women although Alliance Trust's Katherine Garrett-Cox was the only chief executive.
Ms Cook is hopeful The Two Percent Club can begin to make an impact in the next few years but wants women executives to get posts through their skills rather than a quota system.
She said: "Tangible results can come through looking at apprentice or graduate programmes and the number of female applications going up because they see an environment where they could thrive.
"If we can create this environment where people can thrive then they will succeed at the corporate level on merit.
"We will start to see the pipeline to be really well established within the next five years.
"The sustainability aspect of getting women on boards comes from building a pipeline. Good people don't want to be there by token."
Around 70 people are expected to attend the opening of The Two Percent Club in Edinburgh in Wednesday.
Other members of the Scottish steering committee include entrepreneur Norma Corlette, Clydesdale Bank's Alison McGregor plus Deloitte pair Angela Mitchell and Susan Forrester.
Ms Cook is confident the membership will rapidly grow.
She said: "The calibre of people wanting to take part in this has been overwhelming. People have accepted fast and the number of phone calls about how they can get other people involved has been high.
"The aim is to have around 1000 across the UK in the network by 2013. I would expect 200 to 300 people in Scotland once it gets to maturity."
Ms Cook mentioned examples such as Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag and Virgin Money's Jayne-Anne Gadhia as examples of well-known role models and said she was seeing an increasing number of women entrepreneurs.
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