By Hannah McCormack
When it came to applying for the Boardroom Apprentice programme, Ruth Aidoo wanted to see herself represented.
Ruth explained: “The reason why I applied for Boardroom Apprentice is because as a minority myself, a black woman living in London, not middle class, a mother and a wife, I felt as though there wasn’t representation in my category.
“I sought to be a catalyst for change, to demonstrate that as a black woman who wears various hats, there exists ample room for growth and participation. When previously asked to describe a Board Member, the image which comes to mind is of a middle-aged man. Taking part in the Boardroom Apprentice has changed that notion. It has given me the hope and confidence that there is so much diversity that can be represented on a board.”
Ruth, who is half Nigerian and Ghanaian, was born in Nigeria but now lives in London. She was placed with The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) in Birmingham.
When Ruth attended her first board meeting in January she was nervous and scared of the unknown, however, a positive she did see was a representation of herself: “I encountered a black woman like myself. I was amazed to see diversity in the board meeting encompassing both male and female. It was truly remarkable.
“Although my host board is a small organisation, by engaging with the board members and the wider organisation, it became apparent to me that CCW possesses an understanding of diversity within the Boardroom. This boosted my confidence that: ‘Ruth, despite your relatively limited experience compared to the board members, your passion and underlying motivation behind being here is valid.’”
Ruth believes that this diversity enriched her to thrive on her host board.
Established in 2017 by Eileen Mullan, UK Boardroom Apprentice is a unique board learning, development and placement programme which enables those who would like to serve on a public or third sector board to learn and gain the experience that they need to take that step.
Since its inception, the programme has seen 372 Boardroom Apprentices embark on their personal journey to serve on a public or third sector board. Like many participants of the programme, Ruth went on her own personal journey:
“I am filled with anticipation and enthusiasm, on my quest for further development, My earnest desire is to expand my knowledge and contribute meaningfully on a board not merely to secure a seat at the table, but to actively participate in shaping important discussions.
“At this moment in time, considering my background and connection to my community, my aspiration is to serve. I aspire to become a beacon of hope within my community, as a testament to what can be accomplished. I want to be able to say, ‘Look it is possible, and you can go further than me.’”
“Being the person who people can look up to but also being that person that can pull other people to rise up and take ownership of their destiny. It might seem impossible, but take baby steps, and you will get there. So, I’m excited,
To those who are thinking of applying to the programme, Ruth had this to say:
“Don’t be scared, just do it! Ask yourself this question: ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ a rejected application? Possibly, but on the flip side is a successful Boardroom Apprentice application leading to an exciting opportunity to sit as a Boardroom Apprentice on a host board and eventually a fledged Board member.
“Submit that application; you’ll never know unless you try. Overcome any apprehension that may arise; acknowledge the presence of fear, but do not let it hold you back. Have faith in God if you believe and yourself, and trust in your abilities. There is just one of you on earth that makes you unique, believe that you can accomplish it and you will.”
Applications for the programme are open to people of all ages, from 18+, and all backgrounds and abilities.