HRMI 2022: Ruth Sealy, professor of responsible leadership and director of impact, University of Exeter Business School 

With her global expertise on women on corporate boards, Ruth Sealy works closely with government departments, listed companies and the NHS, advising on strategies to increase board diversity. 

After an entrepreneurial career and several years as an organisational psychology consultant, Sealy gained her PhD from Cranfield School of Management, where she was lead researcher on the government’s annual Female FTSE Report, 2007-2017, co-authoring similar reports in Hong Kong and India, and supplied data for the UK’s Davies Women on Boards Review (2010-2015). 

Positioning leadership diversity as a strategic and governance issue, she has co-authored reports for the Financial Reporting Council on Board Diversity Reporting (2018) and The Future Of Corporate Reporting (2020). In 2017, Ruth led the NHS’ 50:50 by 2020 Women on Boards research, benchmarking and setting out recommendations for boardroom gender diversity for the NHS’s 1.5 million employees.  

In September 2020, the follow-up provided behavioural recommendations for NHS leadership, shared with all NHS Trust Chairs in England on how to diversify trust boards.  She is currently conducting a similar report for NHS Wales & Northern Ireland.   

Ruth is also working on a large, funded project for the Solicitors Regulatory Authority looking at the ethnic minority awarding gap in solicitor professional qualifications in the UK.  


Recommended reading: 

Companies urged to look at female executive pipeline as women on boards progress slows


Ruth Sealy ranked 26th on HR magazine’s list of HR Most Influential thinkers in 2022.  

Find the full list of HR Most Influential 2022 practitioners and thinkers here.