Build Your Leadership Capacity in 2022: Join a Non-Profit or Corporate Board
Here at the Women’s Leadership Institute, one of our main goals is to build leadership capacity in women. There are many places where this intersection of capacity building and service opportunities present themselves, but none more apparent than serving on a non-profit or corporate board.
Boards are composed of individuals that meet to make decisions for a nonprofit organization, or a government committee or a corporation. While many people aim to serve on high-profile boards like Higher Education, it is important to realize that everyone starts somewhere. If your first step isn’t right into the board you want, the most important thing is to get involved so when openings do happen, you are top of mind for the positions you are aspiring to fill.
Utah Boards 80/20
Boards are places where decisions are made. In the state of Utah, we have a standing 80/20. In regards to boards and commissions, 80% of boards are filled with men, and 20% are filled with women. Sometimes the process of getting on a board is daunting and takes a while, but your voice and perspective are important in order to diversify how this state works.
Four Step to Become Involved with a Board
Research Possibilities Find three boards you are interested in, either because of the topic or because there are people currently serving on the board that you would like to get to know. Know the term limits, time commitments and general responsibilities. If there are skills needed for the spot you want, take a class, sign up for a webinar, develop those skills so you are capable when the opportunity arises.
Reach Out When you have found a couple of boards that fit your interest and time commitment, reach out to several members on the boards and introduce yourself. Be brave, put yourself out there! Let them know you are interested in a position on the board and what actions they suggest you take.
Build Relationships If they don’t currently have an opening, keep the relationship relevant so that you are top of mind when an opening comes up. Suggestions for staying in touch include emailing board members relevant information for the topics they review, sit in on a board meeting if appropriate to meet people in person, and follow up with board members when term limits are changing.
Additionally with relationships, if you are interested in a board position let other people know. Perhaps it is your boss or a coworker or a friend, but tell someone. Many board positions are filled through word of mouth. It is important to start mentioning a board position is something that is interesting to you. Also, if you see a position that might work great for a woman you know, email her, call her, tell her about the opportunity and if possible recommend her for the position.
Redefine Success Don’t be afraid to start small – the mosquito abatement committee is important in its own right but might also might be a stepping stone for another position you might want to serve on as well or in the future. Plus you never know the connections you might make as you serve and grow your leadership capacities.
Potential Places to Start Your Board Search:
Especially in Utah, women’s voices need to be heard on so many topics.There literally are so many board positions open and available for you to start having input. Put the word out through your networks that you are looking to increase your involvement and would like to be on a board. Look through the websites we posted and see if any of the boards stand out to you or you qualify for any of the positions. Whether you reach out today or not, time is still passing. Besides, who knows if you start looking now, the right opportunity might just be waiting for you.
Wherever you are at in this process, WLI is happy to answer any questions you may have. Email email@example.com with any questions, to share stories or celebrate successes.