The rules of corporate governance are changing rapidly. Spurred by shareholder activism, a strong emphasis on shareholder value enhancement and the imperative to be a responsible corporate citizen, the demands on CEO and Board are becoming stringent.

However, in many cases Board room practices do not meet today’s demands, and this raises several questions for Independent Board Directors. Should Independent Board Directors permit the CEO and their fellow directors to stand still? Should they remain passive and not rock the boat? Or should they act as true catalysts for change? If so, what can they concretely do to exercise effective participation in the Board ?

Being a member of a board of directors is a sought after position for many senior-level executives. Limited seats are available on boards, which means competition for membership is high, thus senior-level executives have to be well qualified in order to be shortlisted as a candidate.
Expert retained executive search professionals, who fill such positions on a regular basis, tend to advise potential candidates to follow five key strategies. For an insight into some of these, see the below points. View the full webinar for the full list and expanded commentary.
1. Make Yourself Known!

Retained executive search firms, represented by the worldwide Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), discussed the importance of gender diversity at board level, the value which diversity can bring in corporate management and the role played by executive search firms to promote diversity at the AESC’s 16th Annual European Conference “Leading from the Top – Diversity and its Impact on Corporate Management” on November 13th in Berlin.

ExecutivesBeing a member of a board of directors is a highly sought after position of respect and accomplishment. With a rapidly changing business environment and changing demographics in the workforce, experts anticipate that there will soon be a deficit in the number of qualified candidates for board roles, especially for females.
Board of DirectorsSo you’ve decided you want to serve on a board of directors. Before you start off half-cocked in search of a board position, ask yourself these questions:
  • Why do I want to do this?
  • What does it really require?
  • How do I get invited?
In light of recent laws and so-called “pink quotas” to increase the number of women serving on European boards, many European boards are increasingly looking to American female business leaders to fill seats.

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Joann S. Lublin reports that European boards are pursuing American businesswomen “partly because the U.S. has a larger pool of senior executive women.”

To recap the recent mandates requiring more women on European boards:
  • In France, corporate boards must be 20% female by January 2014
Entrepreneur magazine recently released an article featuring Virgin Group business magnate Richard Branson on the need for more women in global boardrooms. Branson commented that “At Virgin, we have seen a number of women rise to senior positions over the years. At present, Virgin Money and Virgin Holidays are run by female CEOs.”

AESC: On behalf of the AESC and BlueSteps, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions today. First of all, can you outline the steps that led you to your first board seat and where you are today?

Europe’s listed companies will be forced to reserve at least 40 percent of their non-executive director board seats for women by 2020 or face fines and other sanctions under a proposal being drafted by the European Commission, revealed the Financial Times on Sept. 3rd. Although several EU countries—including France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands—have already adopted their own national quotas, such hard limits have run into fierce resistance notably by Britain and Sweden, which currently have no limits.