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5 Lessons From Female Board Members

publication date: Jul 23, 2012
author/source: Heather R. Huhman,






Sheryl Sandberg - Image via CrunchBase   Image representing Sheryl Sandberg as depicted...

Most large corporations only holding a seat for one female board member (at the most) is no surprise. But, the role women play in leadership positions is instrumental for companies, and men and women alike can learn from this minority group of leaders.


5 Lessons From Female Board Members

Many women’s rights advocacy groups have been campaigning for female involvement on the board of directors for the social media powerhouse Facebook for years. Recently, the news surfaced of Sheryl Sandberg becoming the first woman on Facebook’s board of directors.

A little over half of the U.S. population is comprised of women, but only 16.1 percent of board seats are held by women at Fortune 500 companies, reported Catalyst, a nonprofit group that advocates for women in business.

Why should your next board member be a female? If you are a company seeking to find the best ways to please the largest consumer group of all, it would be in your best interest to begin hearing the voices of the female population. Women are responsible for more than 75 percent of all buying decisions.

By bringing women to the decision-making table, companies can and will excel and we can all take away something from these top women in business. Here are five lessons we all can learn from adding female board members to the team:

1. Education is more than a luxury. Women in business holding top-level executive positions and finding a place on the board of directors for Fortune 500 companies have impressive educational backgrounds. For men and women looking to climb the corporate ladder, continuing education and experience is vital to your outcome. Remember, your education is an investment for career success and growth.

2. Word of mouth travels fast. Referrals and recommendations are still the number-one way to land your next job. Landing a seat on the board of directors for a major company depends on word of mouth, as well. No matter your current position, be sure to play an influential role in whatever it is you are working on. Let your voice be heard and participate in problem-solving discussions. By gaining a solid following and a group of believers, you can work your way to top-level management with the help of their testimonials.

3. It takes one to know one. To be a leader, you must know the ins and outs of what it takes to effectively manage. Though you may not hold the chief titles, there are always opportunities to lead. Whether it be a team leader for a specific project or being responsible for creating a business plan or action, you have options when it comes to being in control and getting noticed. Step up to the plate and take advantage of management positions to better develop yourself and accelerate your path up the career ladder.

4. Diverse thinking leads to more innovative companies. A diverse board of directors leads to a smarter company. If all of the board members hold similar business beliefs and strategies, the company may be blinded by what the majority of consumers really want. Savvy women on board help to find business solutions encompassing new perspectives from the female population. Groupthink is intensified by adding women to the mix.

5. The power of collective intelligence. Including women in leadership positions enforces the power of collective intelligence. Companies should encourage women assuming women to top positions not because they get flack for lacking gender diversity, but because it makes perfect business sense. Studies prove the power of a collective group of all differing viewpoints as they drive better financial performances. Gender diversity at the top accounts for 36 percent better stock price growth and 46 percent better return on equity. An increase in women leads to more money, the proof is in the pudding.

Though women are outnumbered in business management, companies are learning how to get ahead of their competition by adding female business leaders to their board of directors and executive level positions. Taking the time to learn the “how’s and why’s” of females rising to the top may be the next best change for getting the economy back on a prosperous track.

What do you think are the benefits of having women on board? What suggestions do you have for women climbing the corporate ladder?

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