Will LinkedIn Change the Gender Gap in Boards?

Will LinkedIn Change the Gender Gap in Boards?

By Brenda Meller (Zawacki)
AVP Marketing. Nonstop Marketer. Connector and LinkedIn Ambassador.
Walsh College

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

This month, I spent significant time researching board members for an MBA class assignment. As is the case with many boards, nearly every person on this company’s board was male, despite the fact that women are more than half the workforce, the breadwinner 53% of the time, and make 85% of household purchase decisions (Source: 3percentconf). During my research, I discovered that the younger board members (typically age 50 or younger) had the largest presence on LinkedIn.

It also made me realize that the more comfortable one is with embracing technology and sites like LinkedIn to share your information, the more likely you will be found by board search committees.

If you’re not active online and are named to a board, it’s common to find that you were referred by other board members. Knowing that like attracts like, and that boards historically have been predominately male, the likelihood is that when a board has an opening, the selection committee is going to suggest people that they know. If the company is in a male-dominated industry surrounded by other male leaders, it is likely that male board members will suggest other men in their network. They may be doing this without even realizing their gender bias, a term commonly called, “unconscious bias” (check out this Fuel Leadership video on Freep.com featuring Inforum’s Terry Barclay).

However, as I was conducting my research, I reflected on organizations like Inforum and Crain’s Detroit Business that are emphasizing the importance of gender-balanced boards and actively working to move the conversation and initiatives forward. Numerous studies show that gender-balanced boards improve a company’s bottom line. The word is getting out, and I believe it is going to reach a tipping point.

MORE: Hear more about utilizing LinkedIn’s resources and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

Over time, it is natural to expect that the more women who are active on sites like LinkedIn will help to increase the likelihood that board search committees will find them when they are seeking to diversify their boards.

There is also talks of the retiring baby boomer generation, and the “silver tsunami” of management changes ahead of us in the next few decades (read the Huffington Post article by Meghan H. Biro).

Certainly, increasing your LinkedIn presence is one way towards a board seat. Within LinkedIn, you should also read about how LinkedIn is helping organizations find non-profit board members: https://nonprofits.linkedin.com/find-board-members.

Ladies seeking a board seat: are you active on LinkedIn? If not, perhaps it’s time to refresh your LinkedIn profile, and get ready for those future board position searches. Then, inform your trusted connections in board positions (both men and women) to alert you of any board opportunities that match your skill sets.

Gentlemen: do you consider yourself an advocate of women on boards? If so, you’re in the growing group of “manbassadors” who are critical to helping us achieve gender equality and thereby supporting your company or organization’s profitability (read the 3 Percent Co’s article about “manbassadors” to learn more).

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