By Daniel Hunter

In a recent survey conducted by the Interim Management Association (IMA), the representative voice for the interim management provider industry, 79 per cent of respondents voted in favour of the sector creating
a clear pathway towards Board-level positions for women.

An increasing number of women are taking up senior roles in interim management and turning their backs on the traditional route of working their way up the corporate ladder. Female executives accounted for almost one third (29 per cent) of all interim management assignments in the UK during 2012.

"Many people still confuse the term 'interim', and associate it with gap management and mid-management level," IMA chairman and managing director of Russam Interim, Jason Atkinson, said.

"I completely disagree with this approach - it represents the very top level; interim executives operate at or near Board-level. These are highly sought-after and experienced executives.

"Many of the reasons women opt for interim management are the same as those cited by men - it offers a huge degree of flexibility, and enables them to take control of their working lives. It also allows those who once had fast-track careers, but may have had to take time out to raise children, to parachute straight in to an organisation at a very senior level. Interim management can happen quickly, and - when it does - it will open doors.

"Equally, it is not uncommon to hear of organisations taking on an interim manager on a permanent basis, and to then make them part of the executive management team.

"The number of women appointed to the boards of large corporations in the UK remains very low. I firmly believe it is the role of the enterprise sector to encourage women on to the Board, and interim management provides the perfect platform for this."

However, Nick Robeson, Chief Executive of interim management company Hemming Robeson, as well as a leading figures in the interim management industry, doesn't see the connection.

"I am not sure I can see the connection between women completing Interim Management assignments and women looking at Board level roles," he said.

"Yes Interim Management at board-level is exactly that and women have made up about a quarter of all interim managers for the last decade. However, our statistics show that at board level women represent just 15%.

"What I do not accept is that interim management is an open route to permanent board roles. On the contrary interim is defined in project terms and is typically time bound. The chance of any career interim executive accepting a permanent role (male or female) is less than 5%.

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