Women bring qualities to corporate boards that men often lack.
April 19, 2013
Q. I’m a successful businesswoman in Lansing and have served on several non-profit boards. I am interested in being invited to join a corporate board. Any advice on how to make that happen?
A. We applaud your interest in taking your expertise and experience to the corporate boardroom. Corporations are discovering that having women on boards of directors is the best thing for the bottom line.
The findings of a study published recently in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics show that women bring qualities to leadership that men often lack. The study was conducted by researchers at A.T. Still University in Arizona and McMaster University in Canada.
Our advice is this: be proactive, don’t wait to be asked. These are specific things you can do:
- Read the study referenced above and make notes. It will bring to light many qualities you might have that you wouldn’t necessarily think of that would make you a valuable board member.
- Research companies you are interested in and get to know them inside out. Start with companies that are located in your state because you are more likely to know people associated with the company who can be helpful. Find out who is on the board currently.
- Get the word out in purposeful way. As you network, let people know of your active interest in joining a particular board. Network with women currently serving on corporate boards. If you know someone on the board, invite them to lunch so you can make your case in person. Be prepared to speak about the special expertise you would bring to the board, i.e. finance, government relations.
- Make the ask. Write a letter to the chair of the board or the company CEO and indicate your interest. Make your case clearly and concisely on one page by summarizing your experience and expertise, why you are interested in joining the board and the benefits you would bring to the company. Ask to meet with them to discuss it.
- Join 2020 Women on Boards. It’s a national campaign to increase the number of women on U.S. boards by 20% or more by 2020. The website is www.2020wob.com. The site is robust with lists of events, conferences, news articles, action steps, and advice.