Do you know that CA has passed a law mandating, every public company, in the state, have at least one female director by the end of 2019? As of the end of the year, 36 CA public companies still don't have a female director. The fee for failure is $100,000 fine and goes up to $300,000 per woman in 2021 where the law compels CA companies with 5 board members to have at least 2 female directors and at least 3 female directors on boards of 6+ persons.
There is ample opportunity for women to step up to the plate and take on these roles! It is evident and clear that there is also a need to educate and guide women on getting these positions. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending Day 1 of a Corporate Board Readiness Workshop series created by Julie Castro Abrahms through her organization How Women Lead. The workshop educates women on being a board member: such as: their fiduciary responsibilities, time commitment, compensation, challenges etc. Additionally, the program guides women to create their own bios and roadmap as they look for board roles.
The event started with time to network and get to know other participants. You could feel the power, knowledge and energy of the group as soon as you stepped off the elevator, till the end of the night, after dinner. Every single woman in that room had experience, skills and perspectives that would be invaluable to company boards. What was even more refreshing was the candor and camaraderie the women created with each other in the short span of time. The women connected and collaborated immediately, from opening up their own networks to each other to helping each other tweak and adjust their board bios / stories.
Nancy Sheppard, a champion and leader of helping propel women, on to company boards led us through most of the day including helping us understand which types of boards were right for us, risks and challenges of being on a board and gave direction on how to write our bios. Nancy really asked us to dig deep and truly understand what motivated us to want to be on a board and what our expectations were. A key point that Nancy made was that as we build relationships and network, it's not just about who you know, its about who knows you!! As a connector, this has been very important for me, as I have a brand that people know that focuses on the fact that I am a connector. So when people in Dallas were looking for the right person they would reach out to me, even if I didn't know the person they were trying to reach. She also moderated an energetic and powerful panel of women who gave us candid insights into their board journeys. The biggest takeaway for me what the intensity, work and time you need to put into making sure this is something you want to do before you get into it. I won't give away all the other insights as it's more compelling if you hear the stories directly from panelists like - Penny Herscher, Alka Gupta, Kathy Zwickert, Merline Saintil. (So make sure to sign up for the next event!)
The transparency and the education we received from Julia Vax on our fiduciary responsibilities and board compensation brought a different lens to understanding what its like to be on a corporate board. You do truly have to want to be on a board for more reasons than just getting compensated. At the end of the day, you become a champion, mentor, guide and expert in your field for a company that is trying to grow and survive and therefore you need to be fully engaged int he role you play.
We had homework before this first session and received more homework towards the end of the day. As kids, I am sure most of us would not be happy with that but in this case it energized and gave all of us structure to continue to build on what we learned to take our journeys forward. We ended the workshop part of the day with an exercise in working together to give feedback on our initial bios. I was blown away with the experience of the women who had the courage to stand up in front of the group to showcase their bio.
About 20 of us along with Julie and Nancy ended the night getting a chance to truly get to know each other over dinner and drinks. This time that we spent together gave all of us a chance to build relationships with other women who are on similar journeys with varied pasts. The ideas, the stories, the perspectives were energizing to me as a social butterfly and connector. I ended the night getting amazing insights and ideas from Shobana Sankaran (Thank you!). I am looking forward to being around this amazing energy again on February 12. Look out for part two a day later!
Have you thought of being on a corporate board? Make sure to connect with How Women Lead and get the insights, education and network to take you on this chapter of your journey.
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