A new study by Deloitte and The Alliance for Board Directors found women and minorities occupied less than a third of board seats at Fortune 500 companies in 2016.
While that number – 31% – represents the highest level in six years, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented at the decision making tables according to the authors of the report. At the current pace it will still take a decade before women and minorities achieve 40% representation on Fortune 500 boards. Furthermore, less than 15% of all board seats in the Fortune 500 were held by minority board members in 2016.
Even without the bleak statistics, if you’re navigating the early stages of your career the prospect of ascending to the boardroom can seem light years away.
But, based on my own first hand experience, I encourage any woman reading who wants to join a board to find your own way to make it happen.
There are opportunities to gain board experience at a variety of levels, allowing you to develop the networks and skill sets to further accelerate your career. Examples to explore include board positions within nonprofits, professional organizations, community associations or arts and culture organizations.
Useful nonprofit board resources include:
Idealist connects people who want to do good with opportunities for action and collaboration, drawn from more than 100,000 organizations. Idealist posts board positions on a frequent basis.
This website helps nonprofit boards and new leaders find each other.
BoardSource is a national organization working to strengthen nonprofit board leadership.
Career Volunteer helps corporate employees engage more effectively with the nonprofit sector, placing talented individuals into nonprofit board roles.
In addition, it’s advantageous to identify opportunities within your network, neighborhood or industry. Do your research, make a connection, demonstrate what you can bring to the table and don’t be afraid to ask.
I became a Board Trustee two years ago of Zimbabwe Educational Trust, a nonprofit that supports communities in Zimbabwe to keep children in school and out of poverty. As the only woman on the board, I’m immensely proud to lend my support in a leadership position to an organization that champions work close to my heart.
So, in a nutshell, my advice is this. Don’t wait to be asked. Take the initiative towards acquiring your first seat at the boardroom table.
Missing Pieces Report: The 2016 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards includes additional data on board diversity in the Fortune 100, Fortune 500 and a list of companies with the broadest diversity on their boards. For more information visit deloitte.com and theabd.org.
Post by Octavia Goredema @OctaviaGoredema