Getting more women on Boards has been a topical issue in New Zealand at the moment. On 31st July we held a lunch with the Bay of Plenty Branch of Institute of Directors at The Tauranga Club.
The Institute of Directors is set up to help directors commit to life-long learning and carry out their duties and responsibilities to the highest possible standard. The current local Bay of Plenty Branch Chair, Dr Bev Edlin and Anushiya Ponniah – the 2016 winner of the Institute’s Emerging Director Award, shared their own experiences and different perspectives of being involved in the Institute of Directors.
Bev is one of only a few people in this country with a doctorate in Governance. She shared with us how “fiduciary duty” is the fundamental principle around being a Board Member in that in the role you should be putting the organisation’s best interest before any personal interest. It is a role of governance not management and by being a Board Member you are accountable for the results of the organisation. Therefore, you need to be committed to the role and should put in at least 2 hours preparation for every hour you spend in a meeting, in order to understand the reports circulated prior to the meeting and come with questions to unearth answers behind the reported outcomes. Then, help the CEO define strategy by suggesting alternative options. It is not a Board’s role to tell the CEO what to do, however, they do need to hold them accountable for his/her role especially when results are not positive.
Anushiya then shared how the biggest mind shift for her after winning the Institute’s Emerging Director Award, was that a Board Member was a custodian role and one of longevity. Therefore, when looking at applying for a Board position you need to understand the organisation’s Trust Deed’s and think about what value you can add and also the growth that you will experience by being in that role.
She emphasised how it was about learning to ask the right questions rather than making statements and at times being brave enough to ask quite confrontational questions . She emphasised that if someone lacked confidence to join a board there are always people around to help as a mentor, and of course plenty of support from the Institute of Directors.
Attendees left the presentation knowing much more about the responsibilities of being on a Board and feeling inspired about the work these two women had done.