When retired Chairman of Proctor & Gamble A.G. Lafley speaks, people listen. I was no exception. Under his leadership, P&G doubled its sales, quadrupled profits and increased market value by $100 billion. That’s why A.G. has been called one of the most celebrated management leaders of the past decade.
While working at a FORTUNE 500 company, I was honored to be part of a select group of women invited to P&G to hear A.G.’s insights about corporate board positions. If you don’t think this is a tremendous topic of interest for females, then consider this fact: Only *16.6 percent of FORTUNE 500 board seats were held by women in 2012.
However, this topic cuts across genders. According to Spencer Stuart, a leading executive search consulting firm, there were 291-open director positions for the S&P 500 this past year. That’s why I believe individuals (regardless of gender) may benefit from A.G.’s thoughts.
A.G. kicked off the discussion by describing a corporate board member’s roles and responsibilities. “Accepting a board commitment is a big commitment today. It’s not just about the regular board meetings. Rather, it’s about what a well-run Board does outside of their board meetings at the committee level.”
He went on to say, “It’s important to make a difference by being part of the change that you want to see in the world around you. Individual board members can make a big difference by asking the right kind of question at the right time.
“It is fulfilling to serve on boards. You learn so much that is transferable to many aspects of your life. Most problems are generally the same. Yet, some are never solved because they are dilemmas, not problems.”
Later that day, I walked away with four other learnings when considering board involvement: Clearly know why you want to serve on a board; realistically understand what you have to offer in a board situation; have a current point of view on corporate governance; and be ready to say “no” to offers of board membership if it is not the right fit.
*SOURCE: 2012 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors