A mentoring programme for more people with disabilities on company boards
- Directing Change Scholarship
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“A comprehensive toolkit for directors offers practical guidance on fostering accessibility within boardrooms.”
The Australian Network on Disability, a national employer-led NGO, launched the Directing Change Scholarship, a three-year educational programme that creates a unique pathway for persons with disabilities in Australia to join company boards. The programme works in two key ways: (1) by preparing persons with disabilities for directors´ jobs; and (2) by making directors and boards more disability-confident – for example, by developing a toolkit that helps directors to foster accessibility. In its first year (2022), the project received 226 applications, awarded 22 scholarships, and engaged with over 300 company directors.
The low representation of persons with disabilities on company boards is mainly due to a lack of relevant qualifications as well as a lack of awareness.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The Directing Change Scholarship is designed to support persons with disabilities who are in leadership roles, report to a board, or want to be on a board. The eight-month tailored mentoring programme matches participants with experienced board members, which has a twofold impact: (1) the participants receives practical and relevant guidance and create new networks; and (2) the director (i.e., the company mentor) is exposed to the challenges and barriers that persons with disabilities face in regards to joining a company board. One aspect of the project is the development of a comprehensive toolkit for directors, offering practical guidance on fostering accessibility within boardrooms. Additionally, a series of briefings about disability inclusion on boards has been implemented. By partnering with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), the Directing Change Scholarship creates a pathway and pipeline for people with disabilities to join boards. In addition, the programme raises awareness in the Director network about the untapped talent they may be overlooking. As part of the practice, the Australian Network on Disability has supported the AICD to become a disability-confident education provider. As a result, AICD has seen an increase in the number of people who self-identify as having a disability enrolling in their programmes and requesting adjustments to participate.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The Directing Change Scholarship is fully funded by an Anonymous Trust. The project will spend 555,886 AUD (approximately US$367,000) over a three-year period. This money will provide financial support for 57 people with disabilities to participate in the programme. The AICD has also received a grant from the Commonwealth Government to make its educational content more accessible. (Awardee 2024)