HOW to improve boardroom diversity in Scotland was the subject of a roundtable event hosted by Scottish Enterprise yesterday.

Five private sector and two public sector businesses discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with increasing diversity – particularly female leadership – at senior levels.

Law firm Anderson Strathern said it had set up an equality and diversity steering group based on voluntary equality standards set out by the Law Society of Scotland.

“Our lawyers of the future are more likely to be predominantly female than male, so I think what we need to do is create a pipeline and structure that allows women to progress in their legal careers as much as men,” said Anderson Strathern partner Chris McDowall. “We’re thinking about the barriers that are in place there and we want to do as much as we can to try to remove these.”

Other businesses represented included pensions consultancy Hymans Robertson, media agencies Media Shop and 3x1 Group, Greenock Chamber of Commerce, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the University of Glasgow’s Training and Employability Research Unit.

“There are a couple of different messages from this discussion and neither are easy or simple,” said Eleanor Mitchell, Scottish Enterprise’s director of high growth ventures and chair of the meeting.

“One is around supply and and whether there’s enough diversity amongst the people thinking about taking executive and non-executive positions. There’s also the demand side of things. Do businesses understand what it means to have a diverse board? How do you go about putting together a recruitment campaign for diversity on your board? What skills do you need for your board and can you think differently about [how to find these]?”

The event highlighted the Scottish Government’s ‘Partnership for Change’ campaign, which commits businesses to 50/50 gender balance on their boards by 2020.

Achieving greater diversity on boards is also a key component of the Scottish Business Pledge, a voluntary commitment by businesses in Scotland with nine elements, including paying the the living wage and investing in youth.