If your board is looking to develop a better mix of skills, experiences and perspectives, get in touch with us at email@example.com, we’d love to help you achieve that.
Here are our top tips for recruiting a Non-Executive Director in a way that encourages people from under-represented groups to apply. If you want a better mix of perspectives, people from ethnic minorities, women, disabled people, people with tech or marketing experience, younger NEDs to apply, here’s where to start.
Know your gaps
- What skills and experience are you lacking? Think about both current and future challenges, strategic goals and what the board needs to guide you there. If you are going through digital transformation you might need technology expertise.
- What perspectives are you lacking in order to truly understand your customers, your stakeholders and the market? Key areas to consider: ethnicity, age, gender, (dis)ability, socio-economic background, regional representation, sexual orientation.
- Think about what your employees would ask for, or what your customers expect. If you’re brave enough, ask them.
- Once you have that list of what you need, review. Is it too much for one person? Is it so specific you’re looking for a needle in a haystack? If that’s the case, consider hiring two people instead of one.
Get the advert right
- If you’re looking for specific perspectives, be honest about why in your advert. For example: “We are a housing association providing homes to a community that is majority BAME, but we do not have this on our board. This needs to change. We need to ensure that the voices around our table better reflect and understand the community we exist to serve”. This evidences you know your gaps and why they need to be addressed.
- Talk about the skills you’d like to add to your board, not just a list of experience. Avoid phrases like ‘senior experience/ leadership experience’. They can mean different things to different people, and put applicants off applying. Look for true value-add skills, not ‘trophy assets’.
- State that you welcome first-time NEDs. We will never see change if we only hire current NEDs.
- Consider including a video from your Chair, CEO or board. This helps to humanise the board and show potential applicants what you’re really about! We can help you with this. We’d love to video interview a board member about your board and what you’re looking for. Here’s some examples.
- Encourage people to apply even if they don’t meet all the criteria. For example: “If you believe you would add value to our board but don’t meet all the criteria we have laid out in this advert, we would still love to hear from you. Please explain the value you would bring in your application”.
- Always post publicly. On your own website, on social media, on Dynamic Boards, on other sites. Get the word out there.
- If you use a search firm, ask them to advertise the role. A secret search may struggle to attract a strong mix of applicants at sufficient volume to provide you with a competitive process.
- Use targeted advertising campaigns to raise awareness amongst those who you particularly want to encourage applications from. Dynamic Boards has a detailed database of candidates who are interested in board roles and we would be happy to send an email to those who have the skills, experience and perspective that you are looking for.
- Drive a good volume of applicants to support a competitive process. More applications will mean more work filtering and it can be daunting, but putting the resources into that will pay dividends. A competitive process makes clear to everyone that the new board member has been chosen because they are the best. This helps to stop anyone arguing that the new person was a token choice or a diversity hire and that in turn will strengthen your new appointee’s influence and confidence.
- Lastly, whatever you do, don’t rely on the current board’s networks.
We’re here to help you tick a box. This one:
☑ INSERT COMPANY NAME currently has a dynamic board – between all the board members we have a strong mix of skills, experiences and perspectives that enable us to deliver value for customers, employees, shareholders and wider society.
We’d love to help you tick this box.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.