Securing a position on a corporate board requires not only the right qualifications but also a well-established reputation. Top-tier executives and board nomination committees are on the lookout for potential board members who possess unique skill sets and are at the pinnacle of their professional journey.
The dynamics of the board are also taken into account, ensuring that the board members can collaborate effectively.
In light of these factors, it’s commonplace for CEOs and nomination chairs to rely on their trusted network to fill vacant board positions. Unfortunately, this often leads to qualified women being overlooked due to their lower visibility compared to their male counterparts.
In some corporations, the criteria for board membership are so stringent that only a handful of women meet the requirements.
However, if you believe you have the qualifications to serve on a board, or aspire to do so in the future, there are several proactive steps you can take to bolster your candidacy.
Broaden Your Connections
Personal relationships play a crucial role in securing a board position. Leverage your existing network to connect with CEOs and senior executives in your industry, expressing your interest in board membership. Request introductions to other high-ranking executives, current board members, and professional headhunters.
Engage in industry and professional associations, and offer your services to the boards of non-profit and civic organizations. Join groups, such as our affiliate organizations, that actively seek to place women on boards.
Enroll in a Board Training Program
While board training programs do not directly qualify you for board membership, they offer invaluable insights on how to present your candidacy effectively.
The curriculum covers a range of topics, including board readiness, networking strategies, personal branding, board governance, and financial report analysis. Seek testimonials from previous participants and inquire about their success in securing board positions.
Boost Your Professional Image
Embrace self-promotion. Take the opportunity to speak at professional gatherings. Position yourself as a subject matter expert to editors in the business and trade press. Individuals conducting board searches often scan newspapers and magazines to identify potential candidates who are making their mark in the industry.
Gaining experience on the boards of non-profits, startups, and industry or trade associations can provide valuable training. These opportunities allow you to gain insights into board governance, strategic planning, marketing, finance, operations, and budgeting. It also helps you establish a reputation as a valuable contributor to a board.
Stay Engaged with 2020 Women on Boards
We are committed to providing opportunities for women to enhance their visibility through our affiliate organizations and sponsors. Keep checking back to stay updated on activities happening nationwide. Also, visit our Board Search page for resources, including executive search firms and non-profit organizations that assist with board searches.
What skills can enhance my chances of getting on a corporate board?
Besides your professional qualifications, soft skills like leadership, communication, and strategic thinking are highly valued. Additionally, expertise in specific areas like finance, technology, or international business can be a plus.
How can I expand my network effectively?
Attend industry events, join professional associations, and leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people and express your interest in board membership.
How important is previous board experience?
While not always a requirement, previous board experience, even with non-profits or startups, can be beneficial as it demonstrates your understanding of board dynamics.
Can board training programs guarantee a board position?
No, they can’t guarantee a position, but they can equip you with knowledge and skills that make you a more attractive candidate.
How can I improve my professional image?
Professional image is important, improve it by seeking speaking opportunities at events, contributing to industry publications, and maintaining an active and professional online presence.
What role do headhunters play in board appointments?
Headhunters often assist in identifying potential board candidates and can be a valuable connection in your network.
What’s the typical time commitment for a board member?
It varies, but board members are generally expected to attend regular meetings, contribute to strategic planning, and be available for consultation as needed.
How can I prepare for my first board meeting?
Familiarize yourself with the company’s financials, strategic plans, and current issues. Be ready to listen, learn, and contribute constructively.
What’s the role of a board member in a crisis situation?
Board members provide strategic guidance, ensure the company’s survival and recovery, and communicate effectively with stakeholders.
Securing a position on a corporate board is a journey that requires strategic planning, continuous learning, and active networking. It’s about showcasing your unique value and demonstrating your potential to contribute to the company’s success.
Remember, every step you take towards this goal is a step towards diversifying the boardroom and making it more inclusive. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep pushing the boundaries. Your seat at the table awaits!