“What you have to do is really be an advocate for yourself. Care about your own career.”

                                                            Rhonda Adams Medina, Netflix

2020 was a transformative year. Through the concerted efforts of #BlackLivesMatter, #StopAsianHate and #MeToo, a bright light was shone on the injustices that have been committed against people in diverse groups.

As a result of this global spotlight, corporations have been forced to take a hard look at their policies. This self-reflection has prompted them to create initiatives that increase diversity in c-suites and boardrooms.

The Impact of Social Justice Initiatives on Boardroom Opportunities for Women and Persons of Color

Social justice movements have had a notable impact on corporate board opportunities. In 2021, the share of board seats among diverse groups on Russell 3000 companies increased by 3 percent. Collectively, Black corporate directors secured 535 appointments on various corporate boards.

These small gains may not seem like a big deal. But this progress toward more diverse corporate boards offers hope for aspiring board members with the right skillsets and experience.

While there may be more opportunities, the expectations for new board directors are as high as ever. To serve effectively, board members must possess expertise in governance, corporate financial reports, capital allocation and more.

Corporate Board Readiness: Do Your Skills Align With Your Board Aspirations?

Every corporation faces a unique set of challenges. That’s why each one uses a different set of criteria when selecting its board members. Unfortunately for prospective board candidates, there is no-one-size-fits-all checklist to determine board readiness.

However, there are certain skills and experience that board members in different industries have in common. You can use this information to assess your skills and any gaps that you may have. Here are 5 lists of desired skills and experience for board members in healthcare, energy/oil & gas, industrials, consumer and financial industries.

Healthcare

  • Health & Safety
  • Core Industry
  • Manufacturing/Supply Chain
  • Financial/Audit & Risk Management
  • IT/Cybersecurity
  • Legal/Public Policy
  • International Markets
  • Senior Executive
  • Environmental/Social

Energy/Oil & Gas/Mining/Extraction

  • M&A/Capital Market
  • Core Industry
  • International Markets
  • Financial/Audit & Risk Management
  • Health & Safety
  • Legal/Public Policy
  • Technical/Engineering
  • Senior Executive
  • Environmental/Social

Industrials/Aerospace/Construction/Manufacturing

  • Communications/Marketing/Customer Service
  • Core Industry
  • Cybersecurity/IT
  • Financial/Audit & Risk Management
  • Manufacturing/Supply Chain
  • Senior Executive
  • Health & Safety
  • Environmental/Social
  • Technical/Engineering
  • Legal/Public Policy

Consumer/Retail/IT/Telecom/Utilities

  • Manufacturing/Supply Chain
  • Core Industry
  • Technical/Engineering
  • Financial Audit & Risk Management
  • Environmental/Social
  • Senior Executive
  • International Markets
  • Communications/Marketing/Customer Service
  • Legal/Public Policy

Financial/Banks/Insurances/Asset Management

  • International Markets
  • Core Industry
  • Environmental/Social
  • Financial Audit & Risk Management
  • Communications/Marketing/Customer Service
  • Legal/Public Policy
  • M&A Capital Market
  • Senior Executive
  • Cybersecurity/IT

In addition to areas of expertise, recruiters and nominating committees consider other qualifications for prospective board members. These include:

  • Significant achievements in public service, business, education and/or a candidate’s profession.
  • Enterprise Leadership experience as a CEO, COO or high level executive.
  • Relevant education credentials such as an undergraduate degree, MBA, JD or doctoral degree.
  • Possess an ethical/moral character, strong communication skills and self-assuredness.

If securing a seat on a corporate board is your goal, get started now. Nominate yourself (or a colleague) to be included in the Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC) Board Ready Directory. Just complete the short nomination CCWC Board Ready Nomination form and upload your CV and headshot. We’ll assess your skills and include your profile in our directory if you have board-ready skills.

About Corporate Counsel Women of Color

At Corporate Counsel Women of Color, our mission is to help women of color thrive in the legal profession. Join our network of over 4,500 women to build professional relationships and get access to career growth strategies.

Preparing to secure a seat on a corporate board in 2022? The following resources can help.

  • The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide to Public, Private and Not-for-Profit Board Members by Richard Leblanc
  • Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board Seat by Olga V. Mack
  • Into the Boardroom: How to Get Your First Seat on a Corporate Board by D.K. Light and K.S. Pushor

© Copyright of Corporate Counsel Women of Color®. All Rights Reserved. To License the Use of this Article, contact info@ccwomenofcolor.org

Celebrating 18 Years of Diversity in the Law

Over 4,700 In-House Women Attorneys of Color in the United States, as well as Canada, Asia, Africa and Europe