Notes from the Women in the Boardroom Conference

Women in the Boardroom Conference: 30.1.16

Notes from the Event by a Participant. While these notes are extensive, they do not represent all the information relayed in the event nor do they fully reflect the statements made by the panelists. OxWiP does not endorse this material but offers it as a informative source for its members.

Case for Board Diversity

  • Business Case for Diversity
    • Improved Financial Performance: companies with higher percentages of women outperform by 36%
      • return on equity
      • more higher per-person revenues without loss of quality
    • Greater Innovation: female board directors are better
    • Mirroring Your Customers: female product companies need female insight
    • Risk Management: 1 female board member cuts risk of bankruptcy by 20%
    • Higher Governance: enhanced dialogue, risk mitigation, quality monitoring, positive changes to the environment
    • “We wouldn’t wait 80 years to implement any other business imperative offering so much upside, so why are we waiting for this one?
  • Racial Diversity
    • Around 4 out of 10 people are comfortable talking about race
    • Only 7% confirm that managers takes race diversity and inclusion training
    • Get people to put your name forward
      • Don’t be scared to challenge and be assertive and give advice
        • serve them well, keep it professional with whoever you work with
        • Do it for yourself and your reputation
    • Have 2-3 sponsors: reciprocal relationship
    • Leadership needs to be a core skill, not an add-on (cross-cultural, cross-functional, and virtual)

Pathways to Board Diversity

  • Diversity starts at the top — you need to network
  • You need to get experience on boards one way or another
  • A true leader does not see competition: self-development versus pushing other people away
  • Understand accounts
  • Consider what are you adding/ what key skills are you bringing to the table beyond your identity
  • Never be late: 20 minutes early
  • You have to have an opinion and stand firm but be flexible
  • Work on communicating your elevator speech more effectively and directly
    • Write down your sales pitch, learn it and throw it away
    • Practice before interviews: get rid of “I think” or “I believe that”
  • Recruitment is a big problem as it is usually by word of mouth and personal recommendations
  • Volunteering is a long-term process and expense is involved (trustees cannot be paid and it is a loss of personal time)
  • Show a passion and interest — get out and meet people
    • Push back at home and at work: you time invested as a trustee helps
    • Ask for time off to commit or else you’ll never get it

Financial Acumen

  • Never be afraid of asking questions, and if you aren’t getting the right answers it is better to leave the board sooner than later
  • The income statement is the most important part when assessing the value of the company
  • The balance sheet will give you a view of the financial strength of the company
  • Equity is impacted by profitability but also if shareholders inject more capital or receive dividends
  • Cash flows are important to follow as cash is critical to maintain and expand the business (look at multiple years)
    • obligations, liabilities, real big changes
  • Notes and annual report support your analysis of both the income statement and balance sheet
  • Always start with a SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threat)

Networking, Communication, and Strategy

  • Find a Connection
    • What’s the nicest place you’ve ever visited? What’s the worst networking buffet you’ve ever been offered? What was your childhood ambition? Where’s the strangest place you ever lost your keys?
  • After the Meeting
    • Make notes on their business card
    • Connect on Linkedin
    • Follow up if you have offered to do something
    • Remember to contact them every once in a while — even if they do not respond to you immediately
  • Designing Your Achievable Strategy
    • What’s your professional goal for 2020?
    • What’s the interim goal you need to reach in the next 12 months to get closer to your 2020 goal?
    • What’s the goal you need to reach by this April to be even nearer to your January 2017 goal?
    • Who can help you reach that goal?
      • When are you going to contact them?
      • How are you going to get in touch?
      • What will you ask them for?