How to become a board member – Anouk Pappers

Anouk Pappers - Why diversity is good for your board

Research shows that having women on boards is good for the bottom line.

Fortune 500 companies with higher percentages of female board members outperform competitors in return on equity, invested capital, and sales. Having female board members also helps organizations attract and retain top female talent. The top 20 largest companies in the world all have at least one woman ontheir boards. But, tokenism is not enough, and it takes at least 3 women on the board to make actual change.

So, women need to start positioning themselves to fill board seats so that there’s a more robust pipeline of qualified candidates. Representation matters at every level. Getting that seat at the table isn’t just good for businesses: it’s good for women’s careers, growth, and the impact we can have on our own industries and passions.

On average, it takes over 2 years for a woman to get on a corporate board, so the earlier you can start sowing the seeds for board membership, the better. Often, companies have a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” mentality, which means that the best thing you can do if you’re interested in joining a board is make yourself easily discoverable.


Excelling at your craft, building your brand, and networking widely are great ways to make sure you are “found” when companies go looking for new board members. Of course, you can also do some active searching. But before you begin advancing your candidacy, take time to reflect on and articulate your personal and professional values, passions, and goals.


Boards are looking for the best of the best to advise them. This often means they aren’t interested in “jacks of all trades,” but, rather, individuals with deep expertise in a particular area. Wherever you are in your career, the best thing you can do as an aspiring board member is develop a niche expertise.


Whatever your thing is, own it. Realize what you’re good at, and start articulating it. If you don’t share your vision, your thought leadership, nobody will know.


Once you’ve defined your “niche,” you need to build a brand and awareness around it. Define your area of thought leadership, translate the subject into relevant content. Make sure you go beyond writing; video content has become much more impactful than words. And, a potential board wants to see how you speak, how you come across.

Write short articles, create relevant video content, share it on LinkedIn, and speak at conferences or professional meetings.

At one point in time, board committees will do a background check on you and a growing part of that is being done online. So make sure you are up there, make sure you ‘own’ your Google and video results.


Because, no matter how you are introduced to the board…

If you are being referred to by another board member, at some point, they will Google you.

If you are being referred by the departing board member, at some point, the board will Google you.

If you are part of a selection process by a search firm, at some point, the firm and board will Google you.

If you apply to the board seat yourself, at some point, the board will Google you.



So, as soon as possible, make sure that you have an impeccable online reputation, that will serve as your ‘Wingwoman’.



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Tags: Anouk Pappers, finding a board seat, CoolBrands Women, #AnoukPappers


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