By: Christina Sandridge, Vice President
With board elections around the corner for many associations, it is time to start thinking about the board selection process. Networking, competency and diversity are more important than ever when selecting who will serve on your association’s board. Below are some tips I share with my clients when board election time comes around.
The saying, “it’s all in who you know” rings true when it comes to electing board members. For example, knowing the boss or hiring manager at your dream job might put you in a better position than someone who doesn’t have that connection. The same goes for those interested in a seat on your association’s board. It helps to know your association’s members because at the end of the day, they are most likely the ones who will determine which candidates are selected.
If you are currently serving on the board for your association, make an effort to get to know those interested in taking these future leadership positions with the board. Plan events or outings for those specifically interested in joining the board where they can ask questions, network with other board members, and show where their interests lie.
Although networking can help get a candidate’s name in front of more members, nothing can replace knowledge and competency. The selection process for these roles are no longer just a popularity contest. With an association’s needs ever changing, so too are the requirements and skills needed by board members. Skills that were useful this year may not be deemed as important for next year. If you are recruiting members for a particular position on the board, look for subject matter experts and competent individuals rather than members who are popular.
Be consistent with the nomination and election process and be clear on expectations from the start. By doing so, potential candidates will not only understand how to go through the nomination process, but they are better able to determine if this is the right year for them to run.
When discussing board selection strategies, discussions regarding diversity should be top of mind. Board diversity won’t happen overnight, and it is important to acknowledge that during these discussions. Diversifying your board will be a continuous journey and one that needs to illustrate the development of the association’s community. There are several strategies leaders can take to work towards a more diverse and inclusive board.
- Commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – The first step is to make a commitment, as an association and as a board member, to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Assess where the board currently stands regarding DEI – Sometimes we can’t see our own shortcomings, which is why it can be beneficial to bring in outside assistance (like Easter Associates) to help an association identify areas of improvement.
- Identify the qualities needed in candidates – As mentioned above, associations change and evolve over time, as do the skills needed to be on an association’s board. It is important to re-evaluate the skills needed for the association’s goals each year and determine the best candidate for the position, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, economic status, and other diverse backgrounds.
- Forego exclusionary recruitment practices – In the past, many new board members were recommended by current leadership, but this process has been shown to result in homogenous boards. By evaluating your board’s current recruitment practice, you can make a concerted effort to ensure every candidate has an equal opportunity.
The board selection process has evolved over the years. Long are the days when a member only needed to pay his or her dues to climb the ladder. Instead, the board selection process has shifted to focus on diversity and competency within these leadership roles.
At the end of the day, a board comprises of people volunteering their time to help make their association the best it can be. Take care of the people within your board, and your association is sure to flourish.
Need assistance with your association’s board selection process? Reach out to Easter Associates and let us help.