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Welcome to the Financial Times live web chat with Lynne Berry who features in our Ten Questions Q&A.

Lynne Berry, visitng senior fellow at City University Cass Business School in London and one of the ‘100 Women to Watch’ in the Cranfield University Female FTSE Report 2012, will answer your questions on Thursday, 29th March 2012, between 13.00-14.00 GMT.

Post your questions to ask@ft.com and they will be answered on the day on this page.


What made you decide to join Cass? What has stood out to you the most during your time there?

Lynne: I joined Cass because of its reputation in both the business and charity worlds and because of the opportunity to connect these worlds that I was given. I am also working on social enterprise and pleased to be involved in the School for Better Managed Health and Social Care, where we are looking at the lessons for health improvement of ‘spinning out’ from the public sector. I have been impressed by the openness of Cass to ideas that connect worlds in new ways..

How do you think relations between the corporate and voluntary sectors are going to evolve over the next few years?

Lynne: I hope that the corporate and voluntary sector will come to acknowledge their respective skills and experiences. This can only come through a real understanding of each other’s stakeholders and essential purpose.

At present, there is often a feeling from the corporate sector that the voluntary sector is amateur and only interested in the business world for its money. The voluntary sector too often expresses its wish to work in partnership with business whilst keeping its fingers firmly crossed behind its back. There has to be a real understanding of the potential for each, the governance and complexity of each and a willingness to work together strategically and with respect for each other’s professionalism. I hope the work at Cass will help this to happen.

As a female board member, what do you think is the best way of increasing the numbers of women on boards? And what advice would you give to women interested in this role?

Lynne: I think the best way of getting more women on boards is to demonstrate the greater effectiveness that will come from having a more diverse board; the greater richness of the decision making and strategic thinking of the board when it includes a wide range of experiences – including those of women who will have come up from professional, consumer, finance, operations, strategy and people management backgrounds.

The next step is to convince the chair – get him (usually) to become an advocate for this diversity and to offer leadership. We need male chairs to champion the need for diversity and to show the benefits of having women on boards by their example.

The best way for women to be in a position to be considered is to network, be good at their jobs, demonstrate their abilities, network, let other people know about their skills in strategy and holding executives to account and network.

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