There is no doubt that boardrooms need diversity – those with both genders, at least two ethnic groups and two generations enjoy average returns of 5.1%, as compared to a 1.1% gain without.
This diversity also comes in the form of functional experience, where the case for the CHRO to be represented on the table has long been made.
That said, superior HR skills alone are not enough to make for a strong board candidate.
There continues to be a lingering widespread perception that the average CHRO is simply not strong enough to be considered a member of a board of directors.
New research by Allegis Partners serves as a reminder of the 7 steps HR leaders can take, in addition to their HR experience, to prove their board-worthiness:
- Get board experience at your company by appointment to a joint venture’s board.
- Make sure you are working for a CEO who values HR.
- Network with the search firms, making sure they are aware of your interest.
- Cultivate your relationships within your industry; subject to potential conflicts, it is easier to get appointed to environments where you have relevant experience.
- Get exposure to private equity firms.
- Prepare your resume throughout your career (it will be difficult to remember all your roles and dates years later) and make sure there are no surprises on social media.
- Join and lead nonprofit boards.
What does the ideal board HR candidate look like?
The report studied existing CHROs holding board positions, and identified key experiences they had accumulated in their journey to board representation:
- Several had marketing, branding, or corporate affairs experience.
- Several had run the pension investment portfolio. One CHRO got extra support by having an over-funded plan.
- A future CEO of a company (heir apparent) was asked to move from an operating role to be CHRO (for the last seven years).
- Six CHRO Board members had P&L experience, including a $3B division.
- One CHRO did a rotation through finance.
- One CHRO ran manufacturing.
- Several pointed to volunteering to lead global initiatives as having been extremely helpful.
- Frequent comments suggested, “Apply for big challenges in your career.”
- One CHRO offered up that in hindsight he would have stepped up to lead more acquisitions.
Finally, one very experienced, multi-boarded CHRO said, “Don’t wait until you retire to get ready!”