I recently participated in an enriching event organized by the AMME (Asociación Mexicana de Mujeres Ejecutivas) with the participation of Juan Ignacio Perez Collado, Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles, covering the topic of Women On Boards, from a practical perspective: how to prepare to become a board member; what do companies look for in a board member; and what are the key competencies to become a board member.
I thought it was inspiring to see his ‘call to action’ to increase the number of females at Boards and his suggestions to achieve it. He emphasized the importance of bringing males to the table (especially those who openly support and understand the benefits of bringing gender diversity to the Board) and obtained their commitment. This was a good reminder, especially if you consider that he was the only male participant in the event…!
When discussing potential actions to prepare more women executives for Boards, Juan Ignacio suggested the practice of ‘shadowing a Board member’, a concept that I was not familiar with but that turned on my curiosity. I researched more about this approach afterwards and I found out its benefits.
In a nutshell, a Shadow Board program allows an organization to support the development of aspirant directors to enable them to understand and appreciate the difference from being a senior leader to becoming a board member. It provides an opportunity for participants to embed their learning in a safe space and gain experience on what it is like to be a board member.
I wish I had learnt about this tool before, as I would have certainly suggested within the organization. However, it makes sense to generally encourage adoption of this innovative technique in other companies, as a tool to develop and motivate talented executives and future board members, by enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the roles and responsibilities of board members. Moreover, it offers the company an opportunity to increase diversity of thought at the senior level and indirectly work in its succession planning.
Board Shadowing is a strategy worth exploring!
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