Many people seeking a board appointment reference having seen adverts for board roles that contain long lists of selection criteria that do not reflect their own skills and experience. That leads them to ask ‘is there really a board appointment for me?’ It is a very common question.
The simple answer is, yes, there is. Hard to believe, let me explain.
Let’s first look at the Board Appointment statistics in Australia
There are approximately 2,422,404 actively trading businesses in Australia. Of these let’s say just 2.3% were large enough to have boards (55,715). Australia also has ~58,000 registered Charities of which ~26% are stated to be medium or large. This corroborates a recent report that found 35% of Australian charities had their own boards – or ~14,500. Additionally, a recent count of all Australian Government boards found there were 1,242 in existence (all have boards). That means that there are ~71,457 entities that might have boards.
On the assumption then that the average board is made up of 6 Non-Executives – a common number though many will have far more or far less – that might mean there are ~ 429,000 board roles in existence in Australia. Let’s take an even more cautious view and say my counting off by 50%. In that case, the number of organisations with boards across the government, private and NfP sector is still 215,000. These figures are probably pretty rubbery but it seems clear to me, even taking a really conservative perspective, that there are thousands and thousands of board roles in existence.
The question then is not ‘how many boards exist?’ but really ‘how many of them are actively looking for new board members?’
Figures are difficult to research across all sectors, but what I can say with confidence is that a recent Australian study found that 50% of Australian businesses with boards recruited a board member in the last 12 months. Working with my conservative figure above (50%), that means that ~175,000 board appointments are potentially made every single year in Australia.
This is great news… but for who?
I think we have firmly established that there are board opportunities available. So the next question must focus on whether there is a role for you. If you are starting out on this journey, or felt you got ‘lucky’ with your first appointment and don’t know if you can replicate that luck again I want to assure you that there is a board role that is right for you. Though, what that appointment looks like depends on a number of factors.
Firstly, what are your board aspirations? Many aspiring board members have come unstuck because their aspirations were not reflected in reality. That means that you might be trying to be appointed to boards that are just never going to appoint you. It can work the other way around too. It might be an organisation that wants you on their board isn’t your cup of tea. Either way, if your aspirations are not right you won’t find a board appointment no matter how many exist.
If however, your aspirations are balanced against the reality of your potential appointment and you are willing to be a little flexible you will find that a board appointment will occur far quicker than you might imagine.
Is there really a board appointment for everyone?
Of course not – there are far fewer opportunities that exist than there are aspiring board members. However, they do exist for people who can articulate their value at board level, who are passionate, and who are willing to be a little flexible.
Building a qualified, active, and engaged board is the goal for most organisations. So if you have the ability to develop new ideas and strategies, resolve complex issues, assist in generating the continued success of your future board – back yourself and ‘dare them not to appoint you’. How you do that to them is a different proposition. Board Direction can help.
About the Author
David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Direction – Australia’s leading board advertising and non-executive career support firm. He has over a decade of experience of putting people on boards as an international headhunter and a non-executive recruiter and has interviewed over one thousand non-executives and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP roles in the world
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