Last week, I attended the 4th Women on Boards Conference in Sydney. CareerMums was also a sponsor. It was amazing – the networking and speakers made it a stand-out event. My favourite speaker was Dr Louise Maher. She is an expert in vocal intelligence and presentation skills. If you are looking for an entertaining and confident speaker at a conference or work event, look her up www.louisemahler.com.au
There is obviously a significant shortfall of women on boards. There has been momentum in the last few years, but there are fears that this growth is stagnating because “we now have 1-2 women so that is ok”. It is not ok.
If you are considering a board position, these are some take-outs from the conference:
- Consider your skills. Do you have expertise in marketing, fundraising, policy development, technology strategy? Do you have exposure to business planning and good business instincts? Do you have experience overseeing budgets, funding arrangements, grants and resources? Work out what your skills and competencies are.
- What do you enjoy? Do you have a particular interest or experience in a particular sector? You need to communicate your knowledge and interest when applying for board positions so your interest makes sense.
- Don't shy away from board positions. All boards need more women with relevant competencies. And best of all, board roles are flexible.
- Seek mentors to talk you through your career moves, but don't forget to have sponsors as well. Mentors talk to you; sponsors talk about you (positively!).
- Visit www.womenonboards.org.au and www.boardlinks.gov.au for information on board positions.
- Do not think you need to have a corporate background to get board positions. In fact, small business owners may be much better equipped in these positions.
The conference also covered the importance of diversity in our workplace. If you are currently researching a prospective employer, view their latest annual report. The team at Women on Boards review the annual reports of the ASX200 and rate their diversity policies in particular. Based on their criteria, only 14 got the green light, 22 got the red light and the rest received an amber light. Stockland and Caltex were two companies that received a green light. A mining company called Discovery Metals received a red light - they commented in their annual report that they had extensively searched for women with finance and mining experience to join their board but were unable to locate anyone acceptable! Imagine writing that in your annual report.
If you are interested in being represented on a board, there are positions waiting for you now.