Board Diversity From a Women’s Perspective Part 2
1. What have you seen as the benefits to serving on a board that has diversity?
a. Quality of the decision improves – board members should be supportive of the CEO and at times without diversity, it is single minded. I am referring to group think, the preverbal rubber stamp with a homogeneous board. Board diversity provides greater thoughtfulness on different aspects of direction brought to the board. In may come in the form of a question, asking for additional analysis, or “have you considered this…”. That dialogue provides opportunity to improve direction of the company or at the very least assure a better understanding of alternatives and risk.
b. People from different backgrounds and experiences form different views of the world, of business. Some more skeptical, others more trusting, those that are risk adverse, those that embrace risk, those that are results oriented versus process oriented. Therein lies the value of more qualified females on boards as well as in business leadership roles. For example, I have the business qualifications to serve on a public company board. One aspect of my diversification value is messaging to customers and employees – the change management aspect of any decision. I’m a stickler for details of change relative to messaging to customers and employees. The reason is that is the way I am wired – to care about inclusion – understanding that change management is critical to any successful business direction change. I do not accept change for change sake but expect there is a rationale not only for the business but for the customer and the employee. I work with too many business leaders that just expect the customers and employees to embrace a change because the leader said it will be good for the company.
2. What advice would you give to a you female executive as to how to get ready to serve on a board?
a. Demonstrated success as an executive (probably goes without saying).
b. Expand your network to include individuals, both male and female, that currently sit on your target board type, i.e., non-profit, private or public company.
c. Network with legal and accounting firms since they may hear of company’s seeking board members.
d. If your target is a public company, you should have experience working for a public company and have a strong understanding of governance.
e. Gain board experience at any level plus you will meet other leaders that serve on company boards or are in executive leadership positions.
f. Introduce yourself to recruiters that fill board positions.
Click to read part one of Board Diversity from a Women’s Perspective
Or, continue on to part three.