To have influence, women must be seated at the table. Policies and missions are decided at the board level, and worldwide there is slow progress towards equal representation at the Director level.
Joining a board is a commitment, often for 2-5 more years. Do your research now to determine if the position is a good fit for you. To find a spot on a corporate board, it’s all about networking. Introductions to CEOs and senior level executives in your line of work will allow you to start the conversation and show your interest. Ask for referrals of others in the company you can speak with to ask further questions. Prior board experience is helpful, and non-profit Boards are a great place to learn the process and responsibilities of Board service. Choose a cause that matches with your interests, let’s say soccer/football, and investigate their website to see if their mission matches your personal and professional interests and goals. Make contact with a Development Director or volunteer coordinator to inquire about volunteering. Building a relationship first will give you a deeper insight into their way of doing business and the people involved with the charity. Most nonprofit boards are looking for new directors, so don’t hesitate to ask to speak with the chair of the board, or they may have a development committee you can meet with to see if you’re a good fit. Most charity websites have an ‘about us’ section and often include profiles of Board Members, check this out before meeting with them. Take in the list of questions below to help you make an informed decision about joining. Also, have in mind the experience and expertise you can offer them.
How is your board organized? Are there committees?
How would you describe the culture of the board and staff?
What is the organization’s mission?
What’s the length of service for board seat terms?
What are the expectations for a board member?
Is there an official orientation, and can you describe it?
When was the most recent financial audit?
What is your meeting schedule?
What is the financial contribution expected of me?
Can you describe the greatest challenge to the organization?
What is the most recent success of the organization?
Board service can be rewarding and is terrific for professional development and networking. Female leaders and decision makers are crucial to further equality and equal pay. Please consider stepping into a leadership position, and try a term on a board.