Take a Seat – Change the World

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by Irene Seiferling, BPW Member

Always room for more women on boards of directors.

Hundreds of board meetings are under way – right at this minute. The directors at these board meetings are making decisions that affect all of us: you, your family, friends and colleagues.  They are decisions about business, health, education, investing, policing, as well as decisions about swim clubs, gym clubs and daycare. These are decisions that impact our economic, physical, social and emotional well-being.

All boards of directors need good people to make those life impacting decisions. The best boards of directors consist of a diverse group of intelligent, experienced, passionate and committed people – men and women.

We know that teams benefit from having diversity on the board. Different people look at issues, concepts and ideas through their own lens, influenced by their own personal values and experiences. One person sees the fallout from having to make cuts and wants to make decisions causing the least pain. Another person sees the silver lining in having to regroup and refocus the organization during difficult financial times.

We also know that boards benefit from having women on the board.  Women have different perspectives in life. Often this influences decisions made about people insights: staff, clients, stakeholders of the organization.  Women inspire innovative thinking. We also like to make decisions with the long term in mind, rather than short term returns.

There is evidence that women can positive affect business returns.  And women on boards boost the credibility of the organization or company, sending the message that women are recognized, valued. Women are critical and needed at the leadership level.

So what is holding you back from seeking a board position? Here are some questions that will assess your readiness:

  • What are you interest in? It might be economic development, the environment, post-secondary education or senior’s issues, an airline company or retail store. There is a board that matches your interest areas.
  • What are your skills, talents, experiences that are of relevance to that board? Or should you consider taking some extra training?
  • Do you know anyone on that board or in that organization? Invite them for coffee and inquire about their board of directors – how does it operate? What are their values? How do they recruit board members?
  • Do you tap into your network. Boards will ask their accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, other executive directors and community leaders for recommendations for board members. Let people in our professional and community networks know you are interested in board work.
  • Are you just a bit reluctant to take the first step? Reach out to someone you trust and talk this over. Call me if that is helpful.

You can do this….take a seat and help make the world a better place.

 


By Irene Seiferling

Irene has worked with over 200 boards of directors, and never enough talented women.

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