Finding Your Voice at the Boardroom Table

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director , Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board Inc

What does it mean to find your voice at the boardroom table when you are a new board member appointed to a board that has longstanding relationships? Or a new Chair of the Board is appointed and you have never worked together? Or when you are the “token” woman at the boardroom table?

How do you break in with credibility and build trust with your board colleagues? There are five tips I would like to share in helping you find your voice at the boardroom table:

1. Onboarding

An onboarding process is set up to ensure that new board members familiarize themselves with the company, the industry it competes within, and the governance practices it’s ruled by. Its purpose is also to familiarize new board members, like yourself, with people you will be working with, such as other board members and members of the senior management team. It’s not uncommon that new board members may take up to a year to feel that they have fully completed the onboarding process and can become truly effective in their role.

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

As a new board member, in addition to your due diligence process (which includes asking for industry reports, reviewing board materials such as minutes of past board meetings or board documents, and taking the time to read up on any applicable legal or regulatory requirements), it’s critical to also get a sense of the expectations and norms before attending your first board meeting. Make sure to get a clear view of what the expectations of you are, what your board mandate is, and what committees will you be serving on. Then, follow up by gathering information about specific board protocols including how far in advance board documents are distributed, how the board conducts business, and start dialogues with other board members about the boardroom dynamic, looking out for cues about boardroom etiquette.

3. Build Out Your Relationships

Some boards have adopted a “buddy system” that takes effect throughout the onboarding period, pairing a tenured board member with a new board member as a way of showing new members “the ropes”. However, when the onboarding process is over, new members are often left to find their own way. As a result, you need to ensure you’re putting in place the systems to find your own mentors to have conversations with and learn from. A great way to find these potential mentors is through observing boardroom dynamic – board members that have a strong hand on the conversation, or those that most closely resemble your own style can be effective role models to learn from.

Yet, while finding a mentor is important, building out relationships of all types is a key pillar of success in the boardroom. There’s no arguing that it takes time to find your voice at the boardroom table, so take that time to start building relationships that will help you ease into the conversation. I suggest meeting with other board members outside of the boardroom and setting up one-to-one meetings with the CEO. It takes time to become an effective board member, but a focus on relationship building and trust building will result in establishing credibility with your fellow board colleagues. This in turn, will help in making valuable contributions in the boardroom, and increasing the level of support you feel around the table.

4. Lean In

The concept of leaning in means to be assertive, to move toward a leadership role rather than a follower’s role. Imagine a round table discussion, the most active participants are the ones physically leaning forward into the table and the discussion, while those who are willing to take a back-seat approach are usually in a more passive, distanced position. So, how does one lean in at the boardroom table?

Start by taking a leadership role on a particular topic, issue, or governance process on which you have specialized expertise. For instance, I have been asked to “lean in” on certain due diligence processes as part of an M&A transaction. Also, you might “lean in” as the Chair of the Nominating & Compensation Committee, where you might have the opportunity to lead the process in engaging outside advisors to provide an Executive & Directors Compensation review. Yet another great example is leading a board renewal process and ensuring your board is advancing gender diversity in the boardroom.

Most importantly, remember, the roles on which you “lean in” on may relate to your specific board committee, but can also take place outside of the boardroom, so make sure to seize these opportunities.

5. Stand Up for What You Believe In

My last piece of advice is to stand up for what you believe in, form a clear point of view, and most importantly, never feel pressured into making a board decision you do not agree with.

All else said, the board selected you based on your expertise/skills, strategic insight, and leadership track record, so if after hearing out the table on a discussion, something doesn’t feel right, stand behind your instincts. There is no lesser way of demonstrating your value than by following someone you disagree with because of a willingness to stay quiet. Even if this means that you have to fall down and pick yourself back up, put yourself out there, make yourself visible, and be fearless, because the only way to be heard is to speak up.

A Strategic Approach to Filling Board Positions Is Critical — Regardless of Your Gender

Written by:
Debbie Stojanovic,
CEO, Nealon Consulting
& Deborah Rosati, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Diversity, and gender diversity in particular, is a top agenda item in boardrooms today — as it should be. It’s a priority not only because there are now legislative and regulatory changes that require it, but also because it’s just good business practice.

Research shows that the right board composition can enhance decision-making processes and augment an organization’s performance and market reputation. 1  Can an improperly composed board pose a reputational risk for your organization? You bet.

Today, we can’t open a newspaper, attend a meeting/event or have a general conversation without touching on some aspect of diversity. And that’s a good thing. From a board perspective, the conversation is shifting from why we need more women at the table to how we can accelerate progress. In light of this, it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next few months as many public company AGMs take place. The board and management can and should expect questions from shareholders and the public-at-large about their views on diversity and the company’s plan to ensure its people are reflective of the communities in which we live. 2

Case in point this year’s TD Bank AGM. Throughout the meeting, there were several queries about diversity. In fact, a number of shareholders wanted to know two things: (i) what TD has and is doing to increase the number of women on its board — currently at 38% and (ii) what the is bank doing about women in leadership, which is the root cause of this issue. 3  “It’s a major priority,” said Bharat Masrani — the bank’s CEO.

An example where the pace of change is very slow is Constellation Software. A year ago, a shareholder resolution calling for diversity on its all-male board garnered 42% of votes, this year’s vote moved to 49% support—but in the end—it still failed. Despite the outcome, this is another example of the shifting views in corporate Canada about the importance and value of diversity on boards of directors and in executive suites.

The corporate view of recruiting more women on boards is changing and it helps to have input and support from organizations, such as ISS and Glass Lewis. By releasing updates to their voting guidelines for Canada and the US, these organizations are helping to move the dial forward. In fact, according to the guidelines, they will recommend a “withhold” vote for the chair of the nominating committee (or chair of the board, in absence of a nominating committee) where a company has not disclosed a formal written gender diversity policy and/or where there are no women directors on the board. Similarly, others are having their say too—the New York State Retirement Fund, for instance, announced that it will oppose re-election of directors at hundreds of public companies that do not have any women on their boards. At home on our own soil, the Government of Canada brought transparency and diversity to boardrooms with the recent assent of Bill C-25 — legislation that advances gender equality and diversity in Canada’s corporations. It’s unacceptable that women make up 48% of the workforce, but hold an estimated 14% of all Canadian board seats and approximately 22% of the board seats in Financial Post 500 companies.

The train has clearly left the station and companies that have done the work and identified gaps should be recognized as leaders. That said, board recruitment is not always easy — it takes time to find the right person for the job. That is why companies need to be strategic in their approach — which includes identifying the skills required before the board search begins. More information about purposeful board composition can be found in the Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance’s Directors’ Playbook.

There are a number of organizations that are dedicated and focused on helping companies find experienced, knowledgeable and qualified women corporate directors to join boards and fill gaps in skills.

Women Get On Board — as an example — is a member-based company that connects, promotes and empowers women to corporate boards. Finding the right organization to assist you with your board search is critical as they should have extensive experience matching qualified women corporate directors with the right board. It’s not just about finding a female candidate to fill a board position, it’s about finding the right woman with the right experience, knowledge, skill set and personality to work with the company’s existing board. It’s about setting both the company and the selected board member up for long-term success.


Debbie Stojanovic is the CEO of Nealon Consulting and sits on the Advisory Board of Women Get On Board. She is a leading marketing, communications and business development executive who has extensive board experience.

Deborah Rosati is a leading and serving corporate director and, founder and CEO of Women Get On Board.

Thank you to Paul Gryglewicz, Senior Partner of Global Governance Advisors who also contributed to this article.

 

The Value of Public Sector Board Appointments

Written by:
Audrey Wubbenhorst, MA, MBA
Business Professor, Board Director

Early in my career, I had the privilege of working with a very senior leader at a major financial institution.  At the time, she had significant board experience and was Chair of a large Canadian university.  I was working with her on Communications and travelled with her to listen to her speeches and media interviews.  Over and over again, she would be asked about her career and she spoke candidly about the value that board service brought to her career.

At the time, I started looking into serving on a board.  Altruvest had an online learning program which I completed.  They also had a live database of postings.  I applied to serve on the board of a women’s shelter.  I was interviewed for the role by a panel and was successful.  I worked with that organization for two terms (about six years) and saw them open a new, larger, accessible building.  I had the opportunity to work with all levels of government and contribute to major organizational changes.  I also made some lifelong friends.  It was time well spent.

I took a break from board service for a few years when my son was born but I kept my eye out for openings.  In 2011, Toronto Community Housing was looking for a number of board members.  I applied online without any connection to the organization.  After another panel interview, I was appointed to the board – my first public appointment.  I later was successful in being appointed to the Central LHIN and Build Toronto.  These crown agencies are unique in that they are complex, highly visible and play important roles in our cities and provinces.  Overall they are excellent experiences for developing business acumen, leadership and strategic thinking.

Now I teach a number of courses and have been fortunate to work with students interested in careers in all kinds of fields.  I advise them to get started on their board careers early.  They have so much to offer and have the gift of time to commit and learn.

If you are interested in public appointments, you can find them here:

You can also join Women Get on Board as a member https://womengetonboard.ca and you will receive regular email blasts with board opportunity postings. I will be facilitating a session that will be hosted by Women Get On Board on September 21st,  on “How to Get Appointed to a Public Sector Board” – to register, click here: http://bit.ly/WSSep212017

Are You Thinking of Creating an Advisory Board?

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

I’m often asked about whether an emerging company should create an Advisory Board versus forming a governance fiduciary board. My response to entrepreneurs thinking of creating an Advisory Board is to be strategic in the formation of your Advisory Board.

An Advisory Board is not a Board of Directors with legal and fiduciary responsibilities. In contrast, an Advisory Board does not have any formal legal responsibilities and liabilities. Rather, an Advisory Board is created by the CEO of the company to get advice and support.

Over the years I have been invited to serve on Advisory Boards & Councils and have enjoyed providing strategic advice and guidance. More recently, I had the opportunity to create an Advisory Board for Women Get On Board, consisting of members with experience and connections in governance, law, investment banking, accounting, financial services, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, professional development, and media. Thank you all for your commitment and support to help us fulfill our mandate to connect, promote and empower women to corporate boards.

Five key strategic considerations when creating an Advisory Board:

  1. What is the purpose of this Advisory Board?

Usually an emerging company creates an Advisory Board to augment the talent on the leadership team with accomplished and connected business leaders. These business leaders are thought leaders, connectors and influencers that will use their network to make connections and provide strategic guidance and expertise to help accelerate growth, manage risk and enhance operational performance.

  1. Who do you want to invite on your Advisory Board and what is the value they will add?

First of all, you will want to prepare a skills matrix to identify the skills/expertise you need on your Advisory Board. You may want to bring in business leaders who have skills/expertise in areas like Digital Media, Private Equity & Venture Capital M&A, Capital Markets, IT, Sales and Marketing, as well as knowledge of the industry. It also helpful for prospective Advisory Board members, know the company they keep!

  1. How would you compensate your Advisory Board members?

If you are an emerging company, cash is king. You can certainly grant some form of stock options or equity to the Advisory Board for their time and their network. Or maybe it is about these business leaders paying it forward and helping an emerging company with its strategic planning, access to capital and customer introductions.

  1. Should there be term limits and is there a succession plan?

It is important when you ask someone to join your Advisory Board to define the expectation of their time commitment. Most Advisory Boards that I have been involved with typically have a 2 to 3-year term and meet 3 to 4 times a year in person. Sometimes there is a sub-committee that you will be asked to serve on, and occasionally there will be calls with the CEO on as-needed basis.

As you build your Advisory Board the skills/expertise you need in the early formation of your emerging company may be different as you grow. Be mindful of your succession plan for renewal of your Advisory Board members.

  1. What is the mandate of the Advisory Board?

Do you have a terms of reference or a mandate for the Advisory Board that describes the following items?

Expectation – What is the expectation of the role of your Advisory Board members. Is it to provide strategic guidance, for introductions, or to attend meetings?

Time Commitment – Is there a meeting schedule? How often will you meet?

Term Limits – How long is the term?

Compensation Terms – Is it a “pay it forward” or are there stock options or some form of equity, or a retainer?

Marketing – Will you be showcasing your Advisory Board members on your website and other marketing materials?

Once you have thought through these five key strategic considerations on creating an Advisory Board, it is really up to the entrepreneur to engage members of their Advisory Board. The more engaged your Advisory Board members are the more they can help you grow your emerging company!

Tips on How to Get Appointed to a Public Sector Board

 Highlights from ‘The Public Board Appointment Process, a Women Get On Board event co-hosted by Welch LLP, was held on February 8, 2017. The event featured Audrey Wubbenhorst of Build Toronto and Elke Rubach of Rubach Wealth as panellists and Paul Gryglewicz of Global Governance Advisors as moderator. Each of the panellists provided their own insights and perspective into the public sector board appointment process.

A public sector board is a group of directors appointed to provide oversight and guidance to public sector organizations at the federal, provincial or municipal level. For example, these organizations include crown corporations agencies and committees.

Serving on a public sector board allows you to contribute to your community, as well as provide meaningful professional growth in your career. It can also help you extend your personal network.

As an aspiring public sector board member, the best thing to do is: go ahead and apply!

One place to start is to visit the City of Toronto Public Appointment website.

What you need to know about public sector boards

 Appointment process for the City of Toronto: 

  • It may take 6 months or more between applying and being invited for an interview, so don’t be discouraged. Instead, continue applying to relevant board opportunities.
  • The panel interview typically consists of 6 questions to be answered in 20 minutes. To succeed, you will need to come prepared to state your value proposition.
  • Applications are vetted and ranked using a transparent and standardized process.

Dynamics of public sector boards: 

  • While there are set terms for most public appointments, the government in power and election cycles often have an effect on public sector boards.
  • Both city councillors and citizens may serve on municipal boards. It is important to understand the board composition in your due diligence.
  • Being on a public board in the media spotlight can bring unexpected visibility for new appointees.

How to get appointed to a public sector board: 

  • Due diligence: research and review of board information that is publicly available, such as meeting minutes and attending public sector board meetings that are open to the public.
  • Apply: If you have the skill set they are seeking, apply online. Remember, you can be appointed to only one public sector board at a time, but you can apply to all that interest you.

In summary, it takes time and effort to get appointed to a public sector board.  While the dynamics are different from corporate and not-for-profit boards, serving on a public sector board allows you to gain significant board experience and make a meaningful positive impact in your community. Public sector boards welcome applications from diverse candidates!

If you’d like to launch your board career by serving on your municipal or a provincial board, register for Women Get On Board’s workshop ‘How to get yourself on a board’ on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

Written by Nat Korol of Hyphen Co., an affiliate partner of Women Get On Board.

Why a Diverse Board Makes Good Business Sense

 

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

There is a lot of focus currently on the topic of diversity on boards. The underlying premise for diverse boards is no longer about good corporate citizenship but rather about contributing value to a business, and that makes good business sense.

Top 5 Business Reasons for Diverse Boards

  1. Improve corporate financial performance. Studies have shown that companies with more diversity on their board have had higher financial performance in three important measures: Return on Equity, Return on Sales, and Return on Invested Capital.
  2. Enhance decision-making quality. Diversity of thought comes from, race, gender and ethnicity and extends to age, culture, personality, skills/expertise, educational background and life experiences. More diversity on boards helps avoid ‘group-think’ and increases independence, which can enhance the quality of decision making on the board.
  3. Broaden networks to tap into for board renewal. Board members should ask themselves:
    ~Does the composition of the board represent the employee base, the customer base or business partners/competitors?
    ~What skills or perspectives do we need to broaden that is not currently on the board?
    ~What is our diversity mandate and what steps have we taken to increase board diversity? (For more information on diversity mandates, please read my related post: Are you advancing your Board Diversity mandate?)
  4. Foster innovation and creative thinking. Functionally diverse teams are more innovative, set clearer strategies, are more likely to react to competition, and are quicker to adapt to organizational changes.
  5. Enhance board effectiveness. Boards need to be accountable for their own actions and this begins with evaluating their own performance through annual board assessments.

If you are building a diverse board because it makes good business sense and are seeking qualified diverse board candidates, please email [email protected].

Understanding Your Role on a Board

Originally posted on September 15, 2015.

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

There are two roles you must play on a Board, one is Oversight and the other is Value-add.  I will highlight both roles with an extract from a chapter that I co-authored with Donna Price in 2008’s Entrepreneurial Effect by James Bowen and Glenn Cheriton, titled Corporate Governance-Directors of Emerging Companies.

(To promote understanding of a director’s role on a board and how to prepare for board opportunities, I am again co-facilitating Women Get On Board’s Getting Board-ready workshops from October to December 2016. Learn more about them here: http://womengetonboard.ca/workshops/.  Hope to see you there!)

The Oversight role on a Board

“The primary responsibility of directors is to oversee the management of the business and affairs of a corporation. This is referred to as an oversight duty. As a general matter, a business corporation’s objective in conducting business is to create and increase shareholder value. To this end, in addition to performing an oversight duty, boards also perform a value-added role. Decision-making generally involves developing corporate policy and strategic goals with management and taking actions on specific matters related to those policies and goals. Other matters, such as changes in the charter documents, election of officers, (and other matters referred to above), require board action (and sometimes shareholder action) as a matter of law.

All directors must understand that decision-making and oversight responsibilities come from prescribed standards of duty and conduct.

The corporate statutes impose two principal duties on directors: A fiduciary duty and a duty of care. As fiduciaries, directors have an obligation to act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the corporation.

As a director, you must exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances. This is known as the duty of care. In discharging the duty of care, a director must be concerned about process at least as much as, and perhaps more than, the actual decision taken. The duty of care underscores the need to implement corporate governance procedures to guide the board in decision-making. This means that pre-meeting, meeting and post-meeting practices should be oriented to providing the right information within a timeframe that will permit diligent discussion and decision. If a board makes a decision that may be contentious from a business perspective, provided the board gave sufficient thought and consideration to the decisions and were otherwise diligent, it will not normally be criticized. This is sometimes referred to as the “business judgment rule” and generally speaking, courts will not substitute court judgment for the business judgment of the board.”

The Value-Add Role on a Board

“In the formative years of an emerging company, the director’s role is more often weighted to a value-add role and as the company matures the role becomes more weighted to an oversight role.

Keeping in mind that the overall role of the board is to maximize shareholder value, directors also provide a level of insight, business acumen and personal network that extends beyond the company’s management team. These are some of the components that contribute to a director’s value-added performance.

The collective board should have sufficient industry knowledge and domain expertise (such as technical, operational or governance) in order to add value to board decisions and strategic priorities. Paramount to their duties, directors must select and oversee the CEO and monitor company performance. A value-added board should provide insight, advice and support to the CEO and management on key decisions and issues confronting the emerging company. Caution: “Nose in, Fingers out!” Boards must balance being too engaged in the day-to-day operations, with performing an oversight role.”


Women Get On Board presents Getting Board-Ready Workshops

These workshops help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. Each half-day workshop will be facilitated by corporate directors and governance experts.

Understanding your role on a Board Wednesday, October 5, 2016  http://bit.ly/WorkshopOct5
How to prepare yourself for Board Roles Wednesday, November 2, 2016 http://bit.ly/WorkshopNov2
How to get yourself on a Board

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 http://bit.ly/WorkshopDec7

 

 

What Should Directors Think About When it Comes to Compensation Governance?

Interview by Antoinette Burrell, Communications Manager, Women Get On Board

Paul Gryglewicz, Senior Partner at Global Governance Advisors speaks about the key elements of Compensation Governance.

What are some of the current aspects of the Human Resource Compensation Committee’s (HRCC) governance process you think is critical for a newly appointed director?

 Any new director who has been appointed to the HRCC needs to get up to speed on the annual work plan the committee traditionally undertakes.  This may include a one-on-one talk with the compensation committee chair and other board members who are decision makers along with the head of HR and CEO.

It’s important to understand how that particular board manages the compensation process in order to get a perspective about how the process works. The director should start by reviewing a typical employment agreement (at a minimum that of the CEO) to understand the legal terms of the contract and various severance arrangements that could be owed to executives.

It then builds into understanding how the annual bonus and equity plans work by reviewing those documents. A review of this information will provide a new director with better clarity on the goal setting, vesting conditions, and other compensation agreements currently in place.

What are some key fundamentals that directors should understand about total executive compensation design that are relevant in today’s market?

First, get a firm understanding of the compensation philosophy and what compensation components the organization offers to key executives. For example, are they getting an annual bonus, a long-term incentive or both?

Then, review how the HRCC has traditionally managed the annual process. If there is a bonus structure, is it discretionary or formulaic? Find out which performance metrics are used to measure performance. Also, compare how others in the industry reward for executives in similar roles.

Finally, do some research to find out how the stakeholder community perceives executive compensation at your organization and determine the disclosure requirements for the organization.

What is one tip you would provide when a board needs to hire an independent advisor on executive compensation?

Boards should hire early in the fiscal year, so the advisor has the ability to understand the business and compensation strategy. During the hiring process, they should consider the characteristics of the individual. It should be someone who is forthright about recommendations, especially when there are tough decisions to be made. It’s also important for the individual to have extensive industry knowledge and be highly responsive, especially in demanding or urgent situations.

What are some good reference materials that directors should read to help them be current and be effective as a director in the area of executive compensation & CEO succession planning?

There is a lot of great literature on executive compensation out there in the marketplace. First off, a good daily read includes writings on what the media is saying about executive compensation. Get a sense for the pulse of the community in order to stay current on important topics and trends.

Secondly, seek out information published by associations. The Institute of Corporate Directors, The Directors College and/or Canadian Coalition of Good Governance publish a lot of thought leadership pieces related to compensation and succession planning. They offer a good balance of written material and also seminars that you can attend in person.

Third, look to professional services companies such as independent compensation advisory firms and law firms who often present a well-rounded perspective of the issues.

Last but certainly not least, it is also important to ensure an enriched annual education forum is provided to Human Resources Compensation Committee members – this can be done via a consultant coming in to do a custom education session or by attending some of the industry association events that may occur throughout the year.

What is one area in executive compensation that you think directors need to understand from a regulatory perspective?

Executive Compensation decisions need to be handled proactively. Best practice is to have the HRCC meet four times per year to review and discuss various compensation and human capital issues and continue that cycle in order to keep the information current. I would also highlight that if the HRCC gets the Corporate Secretary to minute all of the education events and conferences attended by each of the board members throughout the year, it provides good background to include as part of the annual circular (Proxy). This ensures that the board is prepared to explain the processes and activities as they happened, and also that information is reported accurately before too much time passes. Doing this presents well when the information needs to go into the public disclosure document.

The shareholder community has been on an escalating scale spending more time and attention scrutinizing board’s decisions on executive compensation, so it is critical the board understands who are the major shareholders and what are the proxy voting guidelines each follows.  Directors need to be aware that “shareholder acceptable”decisions that were made 2-3 years ago may not be viewed as favourably today.

A good example of this is the emerging negative view the shareholder community is taking on “out of plan”awards (i.e. special bonuses, for the executive doing something extraordinary for the shareholders in a given year – such as a meaningful acquisition). Historically and to a certain extent today, boards would provide special incentives over and above the current compensation arrangements.  These decisions are about to face more scrutiny of being acceptable coming into the 2017 AGM season.

In addition to this, the expectation that long-term incentive awards continue to adopt some form of performance conditions in order to vest is continuing to be reinforced through higher adoption of Performance Share Units (“PSUs”).

Want to learn more about Compensation Governance?

Women Get On Board in Partnership with Global Governance Advisors presents its inaugural Compensation Governance workshop. Register at http://bit.ly/WorkshopSept22.

 

Are You Advancing Your Board Diversity Mandate?

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

It still surprises me that in the 21st century Canada’s boardrooms are not more diverse. In fact, I often get asked to consider a board opportunity because the company is looking to add diversity to their board. As of January 2015, the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) implemented disclosure rules for TSX-listed companies to “comply or explain” in regards to their board diversity. It is hopeful that this will lead to positive changes ahead in how corporate boards recruit new board members.

Be an Agent of Change
As a corporate director, I believe that the OSC “comply or explain” disclosure rules present an opportunity to build stronger boards through change. There is research to support that more women on boards brings better financial performance including higher return on sales and better stock growth. As well, non-financial performance, like bringing diverse viewpoints, skills and experience, can improve overall decision making, enhance a company’s capacity to build a pipeline of potential future women executives and encourage innovation.

So, how can you be an Agent of Change in making board diversity a strategic opportunity for board-building? The first step is to ask yourself these 10 questions to help advance your Board diversity mandate.

10 Board Diversity Mandate Questions

  1. Do you perform an annual board assessment of your current board composition, and do you have diversity of thought, skills, experience, gender, age, industry and geographic?
  2. Have you defined what board diversity means to your company in terms of the commitment and needs?
  3. Do you have set term limits and/or age limits for your current board?
  4. Do you have a board diversity policy that sets out targets for women representation on your board?
  5. Do you go outside your current network when looking for new board talent?
  6. Do you have an internal diversity champion?
  7. Do you perform an annual board performance evaluation for board renewal?
  8. Do you keep an evergreen list of diverse board candidates for board renewal?
  9. Do you have a board succession planning process?
  10. Do you ensure there are diverse board candidates in the board search process? (Do you know about Women Get On Board and our directory that we are building of qualified women corporate directors?)

Diverse boards enhance a company’s financial and non-financial performance. So, let’s all step up today and collectively be Agents of Change in advancing board diversity in Canada. Together, we can make a difference in advancing diversity as a strategic opportunity for board-building.

Top 3 Tips for Building Your Board Profile

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Getting started on your board journey includes building a board profile. So, how does one go about it?  It starts with asking yourself what your value proposition is, and what unique skills and experience you bring to a board.

Here are my 3 tips for helping you build your board profile:

1. Define your unique value proposition

Boards are made up of a diversity of thought with members bringing different culture, experience, gender, ethnicity, age and geographic representation. So, what is it that you can bring to an already diverse board? What is your unique board value proposition?

Think of it like an “elevator pitch” where you have 10 seconds to tell someone what you bring to a board. In my case, I say that I have entrepreneurial and financial expertise with high growth and transformational companies in the technology, retail and consumer sectors.

2. Be true to what you passionate about

You need to pursue organizations that deal with what you are interested in or passionate about. For myself, I am passionate about dance. When I was asked to join Canada’s National Ballet School’s (NBS) Board, they asked me why was I interested in NBS, and I replied, “I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.”

Think about companies outside of your industry experience. It can be very rewarding to leverage your skills in a new industry with a whole new network and community to engage with. After spending over 20 years in the technology industry, I was asked to join a retail board, which made me excited because I love to shop. But, I am also a Canadian consumer so I understood that I could bring that perspective to the Board.

Get involved in your Alma Mater. Begin by serving on committees or councils to reconnect with your university and go back on campus. I started getting involved with Brock University by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Goodman School of Business, then on the President’s Advisory Council and was then asked to join the Board of Trustees.

3. Research the companies or industries that you are interested in

Review their values, mission and strategy. Do they align with your own skills, experiences and values? Will you add value?

I always evaluate Board opportunities in three ways:

  1. How can I add value?
  2. Do I have a personal statement of the attributes I can bring to the board?
  3. How can I use my network to make meaningful connections to grow the business?

Building your Board profile is an ongoing process that takes time and takes focus. Good luck!

Interested in Getting Board-Ready? Registration is still open for Women Get On Board’s ‘How to get yourself on a Board’ workshop on March 30th:  http://bit.ly/March30Workshop

Don’t miss a chance to win a Free Board Planning Consultation from Women Get On Board!
Sign up for our mailing list, refer a new member, or become a Women Get On Board member before April 30th, 2016, and be entered automatically into a draw for the chance to win a free Board Planning consultation – a $500 value. Visit www.womengetonboard.ca to sign up, refer or become a member by April 30th, 2016!