As the population continues to age, it is not only affecting the workforce but also the board rooms. A recent study proves that board rooms are skewing older now. The study says that approximately 83% of board members are over the age of 40, while the general public is only about 60% over the age of 40. So, how do we break this trend and get younger board members involved on your board?
When I talk about younger board members, people typically think about individuals in their twenties and thirties. However, when we think about our older board members, they are typically in their sixties, seventies and maybe even in their early eighties. Therefore, younger board members can include people in the forties and fifties!
Many organization’s would like younger board members, but they struggle to find individuals to join their board. Plus, it is tough because we have not seen the same longevity and tenure from younger board members that older board members typically offer.
For example, I traveled to update a client’s board succession plan with them and noticed that they had a newer and younger board member. I sat next to her during the meeting, and I welcomed her to the board and started chatting with her. She had been on the board for about 2 years at that point and she expressed how much she loved being on the board of the organization. However, she was unsure if she would be able to finish her three year term because she had young children at home that she needed to care for.
Another example happened while I was moderating a panel of younger board members. Someone in the audience asked how long everyone expected to stay on the board of their organizations. One board member said that they were planning to stay on the board for no longer than ten years. But then the next board member explained that they likely wouldn’t be able to finish their second three-year term because they were getting married and wanted to have children soon.
What You Can Do
As you can see, younger people have a lot on their plates right now, and it makes finding younger board members difficult.
While it is difficult, it is not impossible to find good, younger board members. Here are some things that you could try!
- Set a goal in your board succession plan to recruit younger board members.
- Ask younger individuals to serve on committees at your organization or as associate board members. This way they can get an idea of what it would be like to be on the full board.
- Ensure that you are communicating the responsibilities and the time commitment required to serve on the board. If they know up front what would be required of them, they could make a more educated decision on whether being on the board would fit with their lifestyle or not.
- Look at different sources of recruitment when looking for younger people. Try recruiting sites like LinkedIn. A client had a business magazine in their community that highlighted top individuals under 30 and 40 in the community. My client decided to contact some of those individuals and one of them joined the board. Also, there are many professional organizations and employers (such as attorneys or accountants) that have a requirement to serve on a board or a non-profit for example if they are working for a firm. That may be a way to recruit young professionals. There are many different places that you could try recruiting younger board members from.