Women on Boards

With over 30 years of conducting retained executive searches for Outside Directors, I have personally seen a measurable increase in Board searches that require or prefer female candidates.   Initially, many boards were guilty of “token” female recruiting, i.e., they wanted a skirt in the Board photo.   However, they often got more than they bargained for, i.e., they actually found that having a women on their Board produced a more effective Board of Directors.

Having a woman’s perspective often helped a Board to make better decisions.   Sometimes it helped the men to stay on topic, with less irrelevant discussions about their golf game, etc.   In fact, recent studies show that companies with women on their Boards outperform companies without any female Outside Directors.

Attracting competent women to serve as Outside Directors is not only a trend for U.S. boards.   European companies have seen marked improvements in company performance when women are serving on their Boards.   Consequently, one European country, Norway, has made it law to have a minimum percentage of Board Members who are women.


By |September 24th, 2014|Boards, Career Advice|0 Comments

Becoming a Board Member

Joining Your First Board of Directors

Catch 22: With no prior Board experience, you want to begin serving on a Board, but the Selection Committees prefer candidates with prior Board experience. Don’t worry. The preference for prior experience is minor when compared with other factors. But to be safe, you can start by joining a not-for-profit board such as Salvation Army, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, or similar boards.

To enhance your attractiveness as a potential Board member while also significantly improving your qualifications to serve on Boards, I strongly recommend that you join NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors). You also might attend the free seminars offered by Directors Round Table.

By |September 10th, 2014|Boards, Career Advice|0 Comments

Money Isn’t Everything

When I first entered the field of retained executive search, I was quite surprised. We were paid quite handsomely to attract the best and the brightest candidates, and these top candidates typically already had the best jobs with the best companies, often making the best salaries. And yet, it was relatively easy to recruit these top candidates. In other words, these best candidates did not love their current jobs.

One exception was Marriott Corporation when it was run by its founder, J. Willard Marriott. J.W., as he was affectionately called, did not overpay his people. But he did “over-love” them. His employees were made to genuinely feel like family, so they were more reluctant to leave the company when a recruiter called. For instance, during the holidays, each and every employee would receive a personal call from J.W.

When I am giving a speech to a group of employers, I start by telling them that they make my job too easy. I give the Marriott example and then encourage the employers to stop depending on money alone to attract and retain good employees. If they always rely on money to attract top employees, they may find the same employees are attracted away by competitive firms offering even more money.

I also share with employers a retention method used by PepsiCo. For the ‘”keepers”— the key employees that PepsiCo wished to keep–PepsiCo offered phantom shares that were vested over time. If one of these key employees were tempted to leave PepsiCo, they would forfeit a significant amount of not-yet-vested income. In this case, money isn’t everything, but it certainly is a major influence.

By |August 27th, 2014|Money|0 Comments