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Breaking Into The Boardroom
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One of the continuing issues in the business world is that while women are making headway into more and more executive positions, woman on the boards of Fortune 500 companies continues to be rare. A part of this comes from the business world and industry reaching a split generational stage. Understanding the nature of this generational split can help you to formulate strategies for networking to gain these all important board placements.
What determines a board offer?
There are many different factors that determine whether or not you are going to be offered a position on a board such as experience, resources and influence. Influence is key as it does not have to do with influence within a company but within an industry. That influence isn’t always about whether or not you have connections to get things done, but that you do have connections that will let you know about coming trends or regulations. There are multiple board positions that seek different types of experience, if you are looking to become a lead member, and then you have to have an established reputation as someone with long range vision and planning. One thing that you don’t have to have to be invited to a board is a track record of success. This is one that holds many women from positions, and this also has to do with the generation split.
What is the generational split?
The generational split refers to the aging out of current members who have sat for decades and the rising eligibility of potential members who view the role of the board and the capabilities of women in business differently. The so called “old guard” is locked into a worldview that is male dominated – from the college classrooms they studied in to the people they worked besides as they climbed the ladder. The new generation trained and learned beside women and is more familiar with seeing them as equals – not that they always do because the corporate culture is still driven by the old guard. Most women entrepreneurs make an enormous mistake when addressing this culture clash, keeping them from board positions.
Mistaking success as a qualification
Success is necessary in almost every aspect of a start-up company and women entrepreneurs place a high value on it, missing an important opportunity. To get a position on a board, you need experience – preferably on a board, but not necessarily a track record of personal business success. One of the best things you can do to increase your appeal to a board is to create a board for your start-up company from day one. The experience and record of board experience will be more important than how the company fared. It also increases your ability to network as a board member, not just an entrepreneur. Another thing you should consider is to opt to sit on interim or rotational boards for community and non-profit agencies. These positions are more commonly available than you think, but may have to be sought out. The general qualification is to have a history compatibly with their mission and business experience as well.
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