Anne is Chair of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS). MACS was established by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 in 2002 as an Advisory Public Body to give advice to Scottish Ministers on matters relating to the needs of disabled persons in connection with transport.
Anne is also currently a trustee of RNIB Scotland and is a board member of the Cairngorm National Park Authority. She was previously an assessor for the Office of the Commissioner of Public Appointments in Scotland, and was a former National Officer with the National Union of Civil and Public Servants.
1. What attracted you to apply for your current board position?
I was an assessor for the Office of the Commissioner of Public Appointments in the board round for MACS in 2001. When the possibility of MACS being axed was raised I campaigned vigorously for it to be retained. When MACS was saved it seemed an appropriate time for me to throw my hat in the ring and I applied for, and got, the position as convener.
2. Did your career path lead to your current board role, for example by providing you with specific sector experience relevant to the board?
My motivation has always been to make a difference. My background is as a trade union official, in fact I was the union’s first women’s officer, and I was keen to address all of the issues that held women back. At 50 I took early retirement. I had been chair of the largest housing association in the highlands and the Cairngorm National Park Authority and with MACS I saw the opportunity to make a real difference as we give practical advice to government that doesn’t cost a fortune but that makes a big difference to the travelling public.
3. What do you get out of board membership?
As I have said I really relish the chance to make a difference and at MACS I get the chance to do just that.
4. Should the Scottish Government be encouraging more women to apply for positions on the boards of NDPBs? If so, how?
Yes. The Diversity Delivers Programme, the first equal opportunities strategy for public appointments in Scotland, is a big step in the right direction. I recently attended the STUC and delivered a workshop to encourage more women to apply for board positions. All of the women described their roles and experiences and all would have added value to boards of public bodies. However they didn’t recognise their skills in terms of the language of the application forms. They were often taking strategic decisions in their work life but didn’t recognise that what they were doing was strategy. We really need to simplify both the application forms and the application process.
5. Do you speak to other women about opportunities or positions on the boards of NDPBs, either to encourage them to apply or simply to hear their views of the application or appointments process?
Yes. I talk to lots of women’s organisations but need to do more. Many women who would make great board members do not routinely look at the Public Appointments section of the job pages; the might not even read the newspaper in which the posts are advertised. Things like radio advertisements and appropriate press advertising should be considered to be sure that the vacancies are visible. What is done has to be appropriate to the nature of the post and the type board but more has to be done to make vacancies visible to a wider audience. This is true to attract good women and men.
6. Are there barriers to women who wish to sit on a board?
Yes, and they are virtually all down to time. Boards often meet in the evening and even when members are able to claim expenses for childcare evening sittings are still a problem for most women. If boards do sit during the day there is often the tendency for meetings to run on. While this can be a problem for men and women it is still often the women who are responsible for the school run, for example, and simply cannot remain in meetings beyond the allocated time. Men often don’t have this imperative and can be more flexible in the use of their time. And often there is no provision for maternity leave. I had a colleague who was unable to attend successive meetings due to pregnancy and maternity leave but the board records simply showed that she did not attend. More needs to be done to make public office more attractive and accessible to women.