Development agenda for future board members

In September 2019, Business Engage published the second State of Gender on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Listed Boards 2018 – a study of the opportunities for gender balancing the boards of companies listed on the JSE.

The main finding of the research was that there are 135 future board opportunities for women on JSE listed board. Therefore, it is important to have a focused development agenda for future board members who will take on these and other board roles.

The development agenda is to have a deliberate focus on accelerating readiness for candidates (men as well as women) to compete when the roles become available.

The Board Masterclass Series

Business Engage has extensive experience in driving the gender mainstreaming agenda and the Board Masterclass Series (BMS) is one of the initiatives to contribute towards accelerating women participation in South African Boards to reach the 30% aspiration, whilst at the same time acknowledging the next generation of male leaders and promoting Corporate Gender Intelligence.

This is a practical board series aimed mainly at women; although men are invited and encouraged to apply. The BMS integrates the experience and knowledge of 30% Club members and is supplemented by presenters who are experts in their chosen field.

The BMS is a mixture of “technicalities” of being on a board (governance, understanding of roles, knowledge of the Companies Act etc.) and the “merits” (functional knowledge and experience, required skill sets, aptitude etc.). Added to the technicalities, and the merits, is the networking and business interaction.

The BMS fully integrates with the Business Engage BoardWalk programme. There is no pass or fail. It is incumbent upon on the cohort to maximise the opportunities presented to them.

Key objectives of the BMS

  1. To accelerate board readiness for those with potential to join senior leadership or board roles within a 1 to 3-year period;
  2. Create a pool/pipeline of leaders ready to take on senior leader/board roles as and when they become available;
  3. Provide critical experiences that allow potential board candidates to acquire capability prior to being appointed onto boards;
  4. Provide opportunities for participants to develop or consolidate leadership behaviours critical to be successful in senior leader/ board roles;
  5. Provide participants with exposure & understanding of topics to be familiar with when preparing for senior leader/board roles;
  6. Provide participants with networking opportunities and exposure to leaders already in board roles;
  7. To instil in participants the ethos to be leaders outside of their working environment for the benefit of society and the economy holistically; and
  8. Provide opportunities for JSE- and non-JSE listed organisations, both for profit and non-profit to access quality leaders and decision makers.

Apply for inclusion in the BMS

Individuals, or organisations on behalf of individuals, are invited to apply in writing for inclusion in the BMS stating why they believe that they are sufficiently experienced and capacitated to undergo this series and by extension, be suitable for board positions in the foreseeable future.


The motivation should be in the form of a precis not exceeding 1 000 words. The precis may include;

  • Current position and experience
  • Any board positions currently obtained
  • Personal attributes
  • Any other relevant information

Whilst there is no set criteria for inclusion onto the BMS, mainly to avoid stereotyping, the applicant is expected to apply their mind to commitment required for both the series and future possible board appointments and self-reflect on their aptness.

The motivation should include a sentence that the applicant understands the extent of the series and commits in good faith, bar reasonable unforeseen circumstances, to complete the series taking into account current and predictable work, family and other obligations.

An adjudication panel of a maximum of six experienced and well-respected individuals will assess the motivations for inclusion into the BMS generally based on the written submission. Follow up telephonic information may also be required.

Important details

Venue: The Masterclass Series evenings since lock down are hosted online on MS Teams

Timeframe: The fifth Cohort of the BMS commences in February 2021 and continues for a period of one year. 30 Masterclasses are available. Each Masterclass is approximately 3 hours long, generally from 16h00 to 19h00. These are intermittently spaced during the course of the year.

A new BMS will commence every 3 months thereafter subject to demand. There will be no Masterclasses during December or the first half of January.

Costs: The cost of the BMS is R15 750.00 plus V.A.T in total which may be paid upfront, intermittently or monthly. Payfast is the payment gateway used.

The cost includes any material content provided and approved for distribution by the presenters. The cost excludes attendance at any BoardWalk event and any ad hoc event for which a charge is levied.

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