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How to Get on a Board of Directors

Six things women should know about getting a seat at the table in California

By the end of this year, all 537 publicly traded companies headquartered in California must have at least one woman on their board (66 percent still don’t).* Which raises the question: What exactly do boards do, and how do you get on one?

At a recent Women on Boards event in the UTC area, surprisingly few of the attendees knew the answer. “Women don’t know what being on a board is about because they’ve never been in the boardroom,” says Christina de Vaca, CEO of Corporate Directors Forum. “But if you’re in the C-suite, you’ve probably presented to the board. The more women reach the C-suite, the more opportunities there will be for women on boards, because then the board members know who you are.”

Here are a few things to know about finding your seat at the table.

Women make a difference.

A six-year Credit Suisse study showed that companies increase their bottom line when women are on the board.

Boards do more than sit around and take up space.

A board’s main role is to protect the interests of the shareholders, by hiring a good CEO and overseeing a corporation’s strategy.

It’s not a volunteer position.

Compensation varies greatly, but board members can be paid as much as $100,000 or more and also get stock options. Advisory board members do not usually get paid; they are the CEO’s sounding board.

Women aren’t necessarily taking away men’s seats.

Of the 2,629 companies that appeared on the Russell 3000 index from 2017 to 2018, 63 percent that added a woman added a seat rather than replacing a man.

You don’t have to have experience in the industry.

You could be coming from cybersecurity and sit on the board of a pharmaceutical company. A board should have a mix of expertise and experiences, although every board needs at least one member with a background in finance.

You have to be invited.

“Do everything you possibly can to make your value known,” de Vaca says. As the business community loves to say, “activate your network.”

*If companies don’t comply by the end of 2019, the fine will be $100,000. Subsequent violations are $300,000.

How to Get on a Board of Directors

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