Last month, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of young professionals convened by the DC chapter of YNPN (Young Nonprofit Professionals Network). The topic of our luncheon was board service, and I was struck by the group’s level of interest, enthusiasm and commitment. Apparently, the luncheon sold out within a few days of its announcement – a clear signal that there is an abundance of young leaders who are motivated and willing to serve on boards.
So how do we make sure that these leaders find board positions where they can make the most difference, and how do they ensure that they’re up for the challenge of serving?
I think the answer is right in front of us (and our HR people might be snickering that it’s taken us so long to figure it out): We hire them.
It’s pretty widely accepted that hiring the wrong person for a job is much worse than having a vacant position. That’s why organizations and companies spend so much time and money making sure they get it right. We understand that we won’t be able to deliver the results that we need to achieve our mission and goals unless we have the right people.
But when it comes to board recruitment, it seems that those tried-and-true employment practices go out the window all too often. Organizations often leave it to chance or circumstance when it comes to board recruitment by identifying potential board candidates based on friendships or casual acquaintance.
The results of similar practices in the workplace would be laughable. So why do we expect anything different in the boardroom?