Jane Irvine is Chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission

Jane was the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman from April 2006 until the Office ceased to exist when the SLCC opened on 1st October 2008. She is a specialist in consumer complaints having held a number of positions as a mediator, arbitrator and adjudicator of consumer complaints. Between 2001-05 she was HM Lay Inspector of Constabulary, and considered the handling of complaints against the police in Scotland. She later prepared a report on modernising police complaint and conduct systems for the Justice Minister also sat on a range of disciplinary tribunals. Currently, Jane also sits on the Discipline Board of the Institute of Actuaries and is the Deputy UK Pensions Ombudsman.

1. What attracted you to apply for your current board position?
I had experience of complaint handling and specific expertise of legal complaints. I wanted to play a role in ensuring the success of the SLCC. In short I felt I had the relevant skills and wanted them used.

2. Did your career path lead to your current board role, for example by providing you with specific sector experience relevant to the board?
Yes, as I have said above I had years of experience in complaints handling & conduct procedures. I had also chaired a series of Boards & working groups before this role was advertised.

3. What do you get out of board membership?
I generally work alone as a mediator, arbitrator or adjudicator. Board membership gives me a chance to work with a team. I have also found that every public appointment I have had has given me the chance to work with a terrifically diverse range of very experienced and intellectually challenging people and issues. I enjoy that mix and without sounding trite; I enjoy putting something into public service.

4. Should the Scottish Government be encouraging more women to apply for positions on the boards of NDPBs? If so, how?
I think much has been done. I am afraid I go down the traditional routes of suggesting role models, flexible working and increased pay. I know many people who simply say the challenge and reputational risk and time commitment needed is not matched by the money reward. I know that is true. I know too moist public appointments take up much more time than you ever envisage. However I think there are other rewards.

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 regularly encourage women to apply. However see the answer above – some do not perceive the rewards are there or simply cannot afford to do the roles.

6. Are there barriers to women who wish to sit on a board?
I don’t think there are.

I think huge strides have been made to open up the public appointments processes, but quite often they require skilled people with some really senior and relevant expertise. I think we should be very honest about this as in the long term it’ll encourage people to apply for roles they can contribute to and not just ‘mass‘ apply.

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