They Need You (In Other Words, Don’t Rule Yourself Out)
This is the second in an ongoing series about increasing the participation of women and underestimated groups in governance roles.
This topic struck a chord
Since last week’s post about the power of three, I’ve had a few dozen conversations with women of all ages, career stages and points of view. Some are already on a path to a retirement career of corporate governance. Others are in what might be termed the first trimester of their career (h/t to Anne Chow of AT&T for framing a career in such a powerful way). Some have no interest in public companies, but really want to make a difference with an issue, organization or topic that they care about.
Tell the story, often and across multiple dimensions
One common theme I’m hearing is that no matter where women are in their journey or ambition, there simply isn’t enough information out there (out here?) to be able to understand HOW or WHY governance roles might be desirable and why they matter. Yes, there’s a wealth of information about governance. Great information, explanations and analyses. The gap, the one that I’m hearing about and seeing, is related to lack of representation and the important impact resulting from our contributions of precious time and personal experience. We don’t yet have the critical mass of role models in these positions from whom to author our ambitions.
Start with the end in mind
There are organizations and individuals working to build this critical mass, to be sure. We need to amplify their efforts and support them. And, we need to start sharing the journey to board governance sooner. When women begin their careers, can they start asking themselves about their long game--where do they see themselves taking their careers and including governance work? Could this long-view thinking also help women navigate the brutal tradeoff between having a family and their long-term earnings and promotion potential?
Don’t rule yourself out
Another theme I’ve heard over the week since I wrote my last post is that “that’s not me, because…” for a variety of reasons. When ruling themselves out, I’m hearing people say that it’s not them because they lack one or more critical attributes that they perceive they need. These include: “I’m not corporate,” “I’ve never been on a board,” “I don’t know what I could contribute,” etc. To these, I encourage people to think about, again, why not you? If we start reframing our perceptions about our own possibilities, we can start seeing how, in fact, we might be bringing something important to a table that needs what we can offer them.
Let’s keep this conversation going. Write to me at email@example.com with your thoughts.