Get Board Ready: 4 Considerations for Female Corporate Board Members

Get Board Ready: 4 Considerations for Female Corporate Board Members

Robin Tarufelli is Deloitte’s Managing Director, Media & Entertainment and a founding member of  DEG’s Canon Club, Where Women in Home Entertainment Meet. Here, she offers perspective for executive women who may be exploring the next step in their careers and are interested in increasing the female footprint in predominantly male boardrooms. 

The days of all-male corporate boards are dwindling, and while diversity is increasing, female representation on corporate boards is still low. With such strong female talent in the workforce, it is time to shrink this gender gap. It won’t happen overnight, but some organizations are putting resources into making it a priority. For example, I recently had the opportunity to help host an inspiring women’s board-readiness event in Los Angeles that I wanted to tell you more about.

Robin Tarufelli Deloitte

While this was the first West Coast event for Deloitte’s Board-Ready Women series—a unique professional development opportunity for executive women exploring the next step in their careers–the program has seen great success in New York.  Seeing a need for education and awareness in this area, Deloitte’s Center for Board Effectiveness developed the series based on feedback from clients on the benefits of gender diversity on boards.

Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Practice and The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) sponsored the Los Angeles event, which combined traditional networking with an interactive directors’ panel. Panelists included Jackie Fernandez, Member Board of Directors, Nationwide Insurance, Retired Partner, Deloitte LLP; Caroline Nahas, Vice Chairman & Senior Client Partner, Board & CEO Services, Korn Ferry; and Christiana Shi, Corporate Director, Mondelez Int’l and West Marine, Inc.

Jackie, Caroline, and Christiana shared their stories and insights on pathways to board service, the board selection process, and the importance of boardroom diversity. The discussions also included how to female executives can position themselves for board opportunities, select the right corporate board, network with other senior executives and experienced board members, and how to be a valuable board director.

When you assemble 25 powerful women in a room to discuss an important topic like increasing the female footprint in a predominantly male boardroom, the response can be overwhelming. Some key takeaways included:

The desired skillset of board positions are changing: Corporations no longer pine for corporate board members with finance-based skills. In today’s tech-focused market, open board positions now include digital transformation, social media integration, and cybersecurity roles.

It’s not just about the open role, it is about finding the RIGHT role. Many people become so enthralled with the idea of joining a board that they fail to stop and consider whether it is a good fit for them. Interviewees must also interview the organization and consider the following: Is the culture a good match? Are the organizations’ values similar to yours?  Would you enjoy your co-board members outside of the boardroom?

You are becoming an advisor, not an employee. Keep this in mind as you prepare for your interview. Consider how comfortable you feel giving advice or interjecting when situations are seemingly veering off path. During the interview, communicate what your platform as a board member will be.

Consider the time commitment. Joining a board is a considerable obligation of time. Be sure to take into account the meeting prep, travel, and the meetings themselves. Some women join boards while they are currently employed, but that is neither common, nor an easy feat.

We hope this article inspires you to help change the face of the corporate board. If you are interested in learning more or attending one of Deloitte’s Board-Ready Women events, please reach out to me directly, and visit our Center for Board Effectiveness.  Together we are better than we are alone.