How to Get a Seat on the Board with Jocelyn ManganMarch 1, 2021
Want a Seat on the Board? – The gender gap in board member diversity is a challenge that many public and private businesses face. According to Bizwomen.com, only 20% of the top 3,000 publicly traded companies have women on their board. Another shocking statistic shows that there are five men to every woman director on every board.
In 2018, Tech operator Jocelyn Mangan set out to bridge this gender gap by founding her nonprofit, Him For Her. With more than 20 years of executive experience with OpenTable, Ticketmaster, and now at Papa John’s International, Mangan has experienced the gender diversity issue first hand and is passionate about making a change. The issue Mangan focuses on is not in the pipeline to the board but in the business networking system. Her global platform aims to connect the most successful businesswomen of today, tomorrow, and beyond.
A Study of Corporate Women
In a study conducted by Crunchbase, Him For Her, and the Kellogg School of Management analyzing the boards of 200 highly funded U.S.-based, private, venture-backed companies, it was found that nearly 60% of these influential companies “did not have a single female board member.” The study included research about the makeup of boards, which are composed of executive directors, investor directors, and independent directors. Women hold the most seats as independent directors, although independent directors only making up about 20% of the board. The other 80% is filled primarily by men. This study ultimately aims to shed light on boardroom diversity and bring attention to the opportunity for private businesses to close the gender gap.
To learn more about the gender gap in the boardroom and the statistical study mentioned in this article, read the full report at Crunchbase.
7 Approaches Women Can Take to Position Themselves on the Board
1. Connect with Male CEOs and Directors:
The best way to the top is to build a well-connected professional network of people who can support you. This network of professionals can provide referrals that will be important when a new board position arises.
2. Nurture Your Network:
Take a look back at the people in your own personal network and take note of how many sitting board members and directors you know. Have you recently connected with these people and asked about their board position? It is important to re-connect with your network and express interest in a board position while asking meaningful questions. Board members want their new member to ask interesting questions and bring ideas, which you can practice by reaching out to your network.
3. Make Yourself Known:
Business owners and directors everywhere are looking to add qualified women to their boards, but they often have trouble finding them. Mangan’s nonprofit organization is the perfect place to grow your network and make yourself known to business men and women all over the world. Half of the public companies in the study primarily use their personal or recommended networks to search for new board members. Prior board position experience is also preferred when looking for members, which also places women at a disadvantage. Women need to expand their networks and make themselves known in professional business networks.
4. Know Your Role on Each Unique Board:
Mangan said that, “The boardroom is in need of operational skills that aren’t highly present today. That’s marketers, that’s CHROs, that’s engineers, who can understand the challenges of today and strategically guide to the future,” but “every board is its own ecosystem made up of the CEO and the sitting board members, so really identify where those gaps are.” It is important to learn these skills in order to best contribute to your board meetings.
5. Analyze the Company’s Current Stage:
When you are applying for a board position, whether it is a startup or a larger Fortune 500 Company, it is important to understand what stage in the growth process the company is it. The current positioning stage of the company will drive the content of board meetings and will help you discover where you will be most valuable.
6. Understand the hard work that comes with serving on a board:
Although a position on the board provides fiscal responsibilities, you also need to make decisions that help guide your CEO to success. The stage of the company will also help you understand what that particular board needs in a member.
7. Position Yourself for Success:
Just like writing your resume to fit a certain job title, you need to write a specific biography for a board seat. Instead of simply listing what you can bring operationally, list your skills and passions to show what you will bring to the board overall.
“I think it’s really about asking yourself, is that a role you’re ready to play, that you want to play, not necessarily just the readiness but the desire. It does require time and energy.” – Jocelyn Mangan
Private companies are falling behind in gender diversity in board positions and will need to change with new legislation when going public. Companies with more women board members will gain favor in providing opportunities for underrepresented groups and promote accountability for change. Nonprofits like Him For Her provide great networking opportunities for women and companies who are looking for the perfect fit. In order to make a change, it is important to understand the real facts of the gender gap. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, women have become an integral part of a modern, dynamic work environment.
For more information about Jocelyn Mangan and her nonprofit, Him For Her, visit their website.
Madeline Pernecky is a Dallas based writer for Global Leaders Organization. She is also an undergraduate student at Southern Methodist University, working towards a bachelor's degree in Business Marketing as well as minors in Advertising and Spanish.