Encouraging applications by women
4.1 Section 5 requires appointing persons and public authorities to take such steps as they consider appropriate to encourage women to apply to become non-executive members.
4.2 The Act does not specify what steps should be taken by appointing persons or public authorities. This is because the relevant appointing person and public authority are best placed to determine the appropriate steps to take in any given appointment round. It may be that appointing persons and public authorities will take different steps given their different functions.
4.3 Ensuring that women apply for non-executive member appointments is key to the achievement of the gender representation objective. The Good Practice section of this guidance focusses on the practical steps that can be taken by both appointing persons and public authorities to encourage women to apply to become non-executive members. It includes examples of best practice to illustrate the kinds of steps that could be taken. A key starting point in the process may be to analyse the available data on the diversity of applicants.
4.4 The Act requires appointing persons and public authorities to take such steps as they consider appropriate. If it is considered appropriate that no steps need be taken, the Act allows that. However, even if the gender representation objective has already been achieved, it would be good practice to continue to encourage applications from women.
4.5 Section 5(3) states that "for the avoidance of doubt, nothing in subsections (1) and (2) prevents an appointing person or a public authority from taking such steps as it considers appropriate to encourage persons with other protected characteristics (within the meaning of section 4 of the Equality Act 2010) to apply to become non-executive members of the public board". There is no requirement in the Act to take such steps, but appointing persons and public authorities will want to ensure that wider equality and diversity continues to be considered and the Act follows this.