Women on boards
Becoming a board member can help you gain valuable skills and experiences to make contributions to the community, and how NSW is governed.
NSW Government boards and committees
NSW residents wanting to make a contribution to their community are eligible to join the Boards and Committees Register and be considered for a government board or committee.
Boards and committees provide leadership, direction and accountability opportunities across many areas of government.
Benefits of joining a board or committee
There are many benefits to be gained by serving on a board or committee. Board and committee membership can enhance your career, enable you to make a positive impact on your community and provide you with an opportunity for personal growth.
Working on a board or committee will help you to:
- Gain valuable knowledge and skills – by developing your existing skill base in inter- personal communication, decision-making, problem-solving, team-building and time-management skills. It will also broaden your understanding of issues, sectors, processes and structures.
- Gain insights into areas of interest – by developing new knowledge in diverse areas and aspects of business, industry and government.
- Develop as a leader – by providing you with the opportunity to contribute to key debates around vital decisions and influence future directions of the agency or organisation.
- Expand your networks – by making connections with board members, stakeholders and other influential people. Such work also allows you to engage on a range of issues with dedicated, like-minded people, enhancing future opportunities and subsequent board appointments.
- Fulfil a sense of personal duty: Use your passion, commitment and motivation in a positive and productive way to achieve benefits for the greater community.
- Inspire others: Be a role model for aspiring women leaders and encourage other women in the pipeline. Apply and share your previous experiences and wisdom with others.
- Further a cause you believe in: Promote attitudinal and cultural change in the boardroom and beyond. Ensure diverse perspectives are included in top level decision making.
Challenge yourself: Benefit from confronting the variety of challenges associated with board service such as being entrusted with various responsibilities, working alongside diverse personalities, negotiating conflicting views and fulfilling your board duties effectively and efficiently.
Develop new perspectives and ideas: Give due consideration to the differing perspectives of your fellow board members and undertake constructive debate to overcome differences.
Succeed: Realise your goals. Feel the satisfaction of your hard work and dedication contributing to the successful functioning of the board.
Becoming board ready
Boards and committees are diverse and have specific membership requirements, but there are certain attributes, skills and experience that will help you become an effective member of any board or committee.
- Team player: the ability to work constructively with others in a team is vital for board or committee membership.
- Commitment: you must be dependable, accountable and committed to the board and its mission.
- Confidence: you must be confident of your knowledge and skills and have confidence in your fellow board members and the agency or organisation.
- Positive and proactive: you must be constructive, motivating, show initiative and perform proactively.
- Flexibility: to achieve outcomes you must be willing to consider other opinions.
- Creativity: the ability to think outside the box and be innovative is important for bringing new ideas to the table.
- Integrity and professionalism: you must demonstrate high standards of moral and ethical character and personal integrity.
- Communication skills: the ability to communicate well with a diverse range of people – including stakeholders, other board members and directors – is crucial.
- Analytical skills: the capacity to analyse, evaluate and solve problems and apply strong critical reasoning is vital.
- Time management skills: the ability to juggle professional and personal life, meet deadlines and work under pressure are needed for board or committee membership.
- Board or leadership experience in a relevant sector or industry.
- Relevant expertise in the selected field. Familiarity with the relevant business structures, agency processes and other expertise specific to the board (such as financial management or legal skills) will enable you to be an active contributor.
- Do I understand the role, aims and direction of the board or committee? Do I share these aims?
- Can I devote sufficient time and energy to attend meetings and carry out the role diligently?
- Do I have the qualifications and skills that are required for this role?
- Can I hold this position with integrity and without conflicts of interest?
- Do I have a high quality CV relevant for the board position which reflects my skills, experience and attributes?
Appointing women board members
There is growing evidence that diversity and inclusion in leadership increase company success.
Gender parity on boards positively influences the performance of organisations by facilitating higher decision quality, greater creativity and innovation.
Tips for appointing women
Many women in NSW have the commitment, skills and experience to work at the highest levels. A few strategies can help you access the benefits of women’s participation on boards and committees.
Many qualified and skilled women miss out on board and committee opportunities because they are not aware of upcoming vacancies.
Advertising vacancies widely and publically increases your pool of potential candidates and is more inclusive of women.
Many women miss out on directorship roles because their networks do not include people who could nominate them (such as a chairperson and senior executives). In some sectors women are underrepresented in traditional pipelines.
Because of these challenges, increasing women’s board representation can require proactively looking beyond usual sources of candidates, such as board members’ networks.
Mentors are invaluable in supporting women to develop the necessary skills and networks for senior leadership roles.
Formal training and mentoring courses can support women to build skills and expand networks. Providing scholarships to formal courses or establishing a mentoring program within your organisation or agency can help to broaden the pool of potential female candidates for your boards and committees.
There is a growing amount of research linking board diversity to company success. Be informed about the issues impacting on women’s board and committee participation by attending a forum or reading up on the evidence.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) www.companydirectors.com.au and Women on Boards www.womenonboards.org.au provide free advertising services to enable agencies and companies to advertise board and committee vacancies to their extensive networks of board-ready women.
AICD and Women on Boards also hold events on issues relating to board diversity, and AICD provides training.
NSW Government agencies can advertise board and committee vacancies on the NSW Government Boards webpage www.boards.dpc.nsw.gov.au and can identify candidates on the Register for Boards and Committees: boards.dpc.nsw.gov.au/join/mine.
Chief Executive Women www.cew.org.au has developed a CEO Kit to assist companies to attract and retain female talent into leadership positions.