Potential Board Members

Being a board member is a coveted top position in society, bringing with it responsibility, but also power. It is no secret that there is heavy competition for such positions among men, let alone ambitious women. There is no magic wand or invaluable book that will win you a board position. However, more and more women leading businesses are sharing their experiences with how they became a board member. This literature can be both inspiring and practical.  Equally important is that men and women alike in many countries start and support organisations dedicated to getting more diversity on corporate boards for all the reasons outlined in these web pages.

Getting Ready for the Board


Having something to offer that the organisation needs is the first step to getting appointed to a board. Building up qualifications includes not only having the appropriate skills and experience thanks to education and an appropriate career trajectory, but also less tangible skills. The knowledge necessary is not only practical, but also personal. Contacts and networks may be more important than having the right CV for many board positions. This goes hand in hand with getting noticed, where ability in self-presentation at the right place and right time comes into play. A fourth recommendation from many successful board members is the crucial importance of sponsorship. This may begin with mentoring, but almost universally, board members have been put forward by others. Below we provide board candidates with some beginnings for a successful bid to become a board director.


Example: Confidence to go forward

Pfizer Belgium launched the ‘Raise Your Hand’ campaign which is aiming at encouraging women to raise their hand to say and ask for what they aspire to. It includes three focal points developed to give women the individual and group support, tools and training they need to advance their careers. The programme elements include Mentorship/Success Circles to encourage women to articulate their aspirations; Colleague Resource Groups (CRGs) to motivate women to play an active role in developing and expanding their network; and Business acumen to provide women with leadership development programmes to help them hone their career skills. (Institute for Gender Equality Belgium best practice site www.iefh-action.be )


Example: Build Knowledge about your Competition

The 'Glassdoor' Wage Tracking Software  . Founded in 2007, Glassdoor is a job offers and recruitment website (www.glassdoor.com) created for job seekers, employees and employers. Besides job offers, Glassdoor contains a complete database indexing more than 8 million company evaluations, wage references, interview questionnaires, CEO and directors’ evaluations, etc. It also includes a wage comparator according to the company, the position and the social benefit. It allows employees to compare their own salary with other employees’ salaries from 180,000 companies in the world. (Gender Balance Power Map 2016) Christelle Hardy, Consultant using the Glassdoor tool, Linéa Coaching says“Women’s access to decision-making positions is firstly a matter of self-confidence. Their organisational intelligence will make them go further in their career. [...] For the employee, Glassdoor is a reassuring tool. It allows him/her to show up to a wage negotiation with realistic demands based on real data.” (as cited in Gender Balance Power Map, 2016, p. 15)


Example : Take Advantage of Training and Sponsoring Programmes such as those of EWoB Members'

In Italy – EWoB member organisation Valore D  is the first Italian association of large companies aiming to support women’s leadership in the corporate world. Through their  innovative programme ‘In the Boardroom’, Valore D is helping over 200 women from the fields of business, academia and politics to strengthen their competences and skills, which are necessary to successfully perform the role of board member. The programme, launched in 2012 together with GE Capital, Linklaters and Egon Zehnder encourages companies to identify internal potential candidates and provides participants with training, coaching and networking opportunities, as well as with information and support in applying for board positions. ( www.valored.it)


Career Paths

Appropriate experience that fits with the needs of an enterprise or organization is crucial in bidding for a position on a board.



Networks are absolutely crucial for entering into the elite world of top board memberships.


Mentors & Sponsors

Just as companies hoping to develop managerial potential use mentoring schemes, so should someone with board ambitions be on the look out to cultivate a sponsor, and make use of the many potential mentor schemes set up by the numerous organisations working for more gender diverse management.


Interview insights


On Seeking Challenges and Adjusting to Being Number One: by Caro Van Eekelen, Senior Vice President of Transformation OneBrand at Accor hotels