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If you’re a private company owner or shareholder, you may find yourself asking: How do I find highly qualified individuals to join my board? When a board seat is empty and needs to be filled, keep these three strategies in mind

Be Selective

Quality over quantity is key. It’s not just about filling all the seats at the table, but attracting people who can actually get the job done. Serving on a board is rewarding but time-consuming, and there is no room for passive membership when it comes to strategic decision making. Maybe you have interest from someone who intends to serve on as many boards as possible, something I like to call “overboarding.” No one benefits from filling a table with talking heads when a smaller, yet more productive team is what may truly be necessary to propel the corporation forward.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my board simply fill blank space on the candidate’s resume?
  • Is this candidate guilty of being spread too thin?
  • Does this candidate add a key skill set or perspective to our team?

It’s sad but true: Women and minorities are largely absent from corporate boards. Lack of diversity in the boardroom is a significant problem and affects us all in more ways than we realize. In fact, decisions made by boards of directors can impact you, your community, and the country. A diversified board ensures a variety of perspective that can come only from people with different backgrounds and experiences. It promotes a variety of viewpoints when it comes to leadership tactics, problem solving, and curating unique and thoughtful perspective on the organization as a whole. A board should mirror the company it governs, including its employees and customers. Lack of diversity is reason enough for boards to reassess their structure.

In fact, a report entitled Why Diversity Matters by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quarter for ethnic and racial diversity are 35% more likely to see financial returns above their national industry median. Interestingly enough, those companies in the bottom quarter for gender, race, and ethnic diversity are less likely to deliver above-average financial returns than the average companies in their national industry median.

From a gender perspective, a Catalyst report entitled The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards found that on average, companies with the highest percentage of female board directors outperformed those with the least by 53% for return on equity, by 42% for return on sales, and by 66% for return on invested capital. The writing is on the wall — diversity on boards is good for business.


So how do you find qualified and diverse candidates? Often, it’s about whom you know, but what about those you didn’t realize you knew? Simply put, networking today is at your fingertips 24/7 thanks to social media, apps, and other networking tools. Online networking helps expand your network and serves as a helpful complement to traditional in-person networking.

But let’s not fully discount good old traditional networking. Face-to-face connections at events, conferences, and social gatherings can present a world of opportunity you may have never known existed. Opening up lines of communication to a second- or even third-degree connection could lead to an excellent fit for the board position you are looking to fill. New ways of networking enable us to step out of our comfort zones and create meaningful partnerships that take our organization to the next level.

Effective recruiting for your organization’s board is dependent on selectivity, diversity, and networking. The responsibility of the board member is to try to make a difference while hopefully gaining professional and personal satisfaction in the process. If there is ever an opportunity to be selective, assembling a winning board is it.



Author: Jeff Middlesworth CEO, Boardable

Today, the board of directors is responsible for appointing tech-savvy members and protecting the organization from risk. It’s no easy task.

In an era of rapid innovation, organizations and associations are vulnerable to more avenues for cybersecurity threats than ever. The boardroom is no exception. Jeff Middlesworth, CEO of Boardable, explains why an organization’s governing body must now rely on virtual meetings and document exchanges to enhance board management. 

Since data breaches increased by 15.1% in 2021 compared to the previous year, mitigating cybersecurity risks is more critical than ever. Cybersecurity worries have only grown since Russia invaded Ukraine. More than half of companies reported cybersecurity as the most impacted part of their business since the beginning of the conflict.

Today, the board of directors is responsible for appointing tech-savvy members and protecting the organization from risk. It’s no easy task. Boards must:

  • Establish digital governance committees
  • Understand which security features to look for in a tech stack
  • Educate themselves with varying levels of technological know-how
  • Implement approaches that combine policy and technology
  • Leverage a fully secure virtual meeting platform

How Cybersecurity Flaws Affect Your Business

Cybersecurity flaws derive from competitors, foreign powers, hostile hackers and lack of security configuration. Yet as quickly as we develop new technologies to prevent hacking, cybercriminals find ways to exploit them via phishing, malware and ransomware attacks to gain access to sensitive, valuable data.

These threats increase a company’s odds of losing:

  • Business plans
  • Customer and employee data
  • Financial records
  • Intellectual property
  • Money
  • Product ideas

It takes an average of 287 days for businesses to detect a data breach. Companies should consider these threats and work with their board to develop defense plans.

How Boards Can Help Enhance Cybersecurity

While cybersecurity threats continue growing, so do effective solutions to prevent attacks. Boards can no longer sit by the wayside and let IT handle the brunt of the work. Maintaining cybersecurity is not just a technical problem but also an organizational issue. With the power to give companies the tools and guidance they need to prevent cyber risks, boards are now the first line of defense against online threats.

Mitigating cybersecurity risks now starts with board proactivity.

1. Digital governance committees

Establishing digital governance committees increases your company’s accountability and ultimately improves decision-making regarding maintaining cybersecurity. Digital governance committees must include individuals who understand the complexities of cyber risks and how to address them. Once boards recruit these digitally-savvy committee members, they should dig into the specifics of cybersecurity risks and — if necessary — how to manage them.

Establishing digital governance committees increases your company’s accountability and ultimately improves decision-making regarding maintaining cybersecurity. Digital governance committees must include individuals who understand the complexities of cyber risks and how to address them. Once boards recruit these digitally-savvy committee members, they should dig into the specifics of cybersecurity risks and — if necessary — how to manage them.

For example, the committee should prepare to answer the following questions:

  • What does a data breach look like?
  • What should we do in the event of a data breach?
  • What steps need to be taken to build cybersecurity?

Holistically, your digital governance committee should be able to distinguish outside threats and how to address them.

2. Security features

It has become critical for boards to understand their company tech stack’s security features. With malware attacks increasing 358%, ransomware attacks increasing 435% and phishing attacks accounting for over 80% of security incidents, companies must prioritize effective cybersecurity technology, processes and protocols.

Perimeter security technology — a shield for your business — includes web application firewalls, spam filtering, content filtering and antivirus software. Authentication tools also keep unwanted guests from snooping on your business data. Multifactor authentication requires a secondary method or device to authenticate users. Other security measures, such as password management, need employees to update their passwords consistently.

Finally, boards must evangelize and encourage companies to implement backup and disaster recovery tech. This technology allows businesses to retrieve lost information compromised by data breaches.

3. Educated board members

Adding just one board member with cybersecurity knowledge helps colleagues disseminate crucial information about prevention and risk management.

During each meeting, boards should also allocate time to discuss current cybersecurity risks and preventative strategies. By dedicating time to discuss risks, board members have the opportunity to raise questions and carve out their role in helping address cybersecurity threats.

Lastly, companies should include boards in all cybersecurity training programs. Plenty of training programs exist designed to increase cybersecurity literacy. Your business’s security goals and the board’s current knowledge level can guide you in choosing the right one.

4. Combining policy and technology

Instead of scaring boards into preventing cybersecurity threats, enlighten them on the importance of protection. For example, boards should encourage IT departments to set strict employee password requirements and use password management technology to store and update passphrases.

Social media remains the king of the internet. Boards must also set social media limitations for those within the company. Restrictions include prohibiting employees from sharing sensitive business information online or using social media during work hours.

Despite the growing popularity of remote and hybrid work environments, boards must consider developing and implementing policies dictating how, where and when employees can access their business devices. Additionally, boards should set restrictions on removable devices — or, if required — IT departments must perform virus scans before devices connect to business systems.

Many companies are implementing a zero trust framework that requires all users to be authenticated and authorized before being given company data and app access. Boards should also consider a zero trust framework to prevent unauthorized access from unauthorized users.

5. Secure virtual meeting platforms

As more businesses communicate digitally, they must prioritize maintaining security across virtual meeting platforms. With tools like agenda builders, minutes makers, document centers, polls and voting, and messaging protected by robust security measures, the right virtual meeting technology allows companies to communicate effectively and securely.

When vetting a virtual meeting platform, boards must choose one with administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect sensitive data. Also, ensure the platform complies with General Data Protection Regulations.

Data breaches cost companies an average of $4.35 million per breach. That number should raise eyebrows no matter how large or small the business. A multimillion-dollar data breach drains assets and puts companies on precarious financial footing.

But failure to prepare for these threats goes beyond monetary value. Businesses lose customer and employee confidence with each data breach – their sensitive data is at risk. Companies suffer significant reputational damage. It takes companies months – sometimes years – to recover from the consequences of cybercrime.

Prowling cybercriminals often remain undetected for months. Don’t wait to prioritize cybersecurity. The best time for boards to take the necessary steps to enhance their company’s security is now. The health and well-being of their company depend on proactive cybersecurity measures. Boards are pivotal in helping IT, and security teams build a protective layer around their digital assets and set security standards for the entire organization.


“The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a change in the skills in demand for board members, a new study has found. According to the Director Sentiment Monitor research published by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland, almost a third of business leaders say the pandemic has altered required skillsets and expertise for their board. Among the skills expected to be in demand in the coming two years are environmental, social and governance (ESG), innovation, cyber security and digital expertise.

“The pandemic has impacted just about every business in Ireland – as it has the rest of society – and this movement in relation to requisite board members’ expertise and experience reflects this. So, while a majority (65 per cent) of our survey respondents says the requisite skills and experience on their primary board have not changed during the Covid-19 pandemic, a significant one third of the business leaders say they have changed,” said Maura Quinn, chief executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland.


“The shift certainly reflects a post-Covid heightened awareness of environmental, social and governance issues, but also sees innovation, cyber security and digital expertise as enhancing rather than replacing more ‘traditional’ competencies such as strategy, corporate governance and risk management.”

The majority which was 81% felt their boards had the range of skills and experience necessary to drive the business and mitigate significant risks.

Strategy, corporate governance, sales, marketing and business development remained the most common skills board members believed they brought, with innovation, cyber security and data protection among the less common skills.

However, ESG and innovation were among the top three skills that respondents said would be the most desired and needed over the next two years. Cyber security and digital skills rounded out the top five, with marketing, sales and business development skills dropping to sixth place. Business continuity planning also fell down the list of in-demand skills.

It is worth noting, too, that the crucial importance of strong business continuity planning expertise also came to the fore during the pandemic, and it served those organisations well that incorporated it into their boards’ strategic planning and risk management functions.”

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