January is the time when many independent school boards begin to think about their slate of board members and filling seats for the upcoming year. You will begin to hear at the end of board meetings: “Does anyone know of someone who would be willing to be on our board?” And your governance committee will be wracking their brains to think of folks they can ask to join.
And although you know you need a diverse board, and want board members from outside of your school, frequently boards will resort to only looking for new members from the same group: current parents.
While having current parents on your board is not a bad thing, and actually can be a very good thing, having an ALL parent board can be problematic. For starters, whenever you have ALL of any constituent group, it means you do not have a diverse board. And we know from research that having diversity in your group leads to better thinking, decision making, and organizational outcomes.
So how do you find people who will be interested and willing to serve on your board? The answer is to be strategic.
But many boards are not strategic at all when it comes to board member recruitment- not because they don’t want to be, but because they don’t know how to be. They resort to the same tactics they have used in the past: ask the people they know.
And, not surprisingly, they end up with the same results: a board comprised of similarly-minded people from similar backgrounds with similar skills and abilities.
Instead, boards need to strategically consider who they have on the board currently in terms of perspective, constituent group, skills, and abilities and who they need. Then boards need a plan with clearly articulated steps for recruiting the needed people from the wider community.
Having the right board members who are fully engaged and bring a diversity of perspectives and thought is the foundation to having an effective board. Boards need to carefully consider their recruitment strategies in order to identify and onboard new board members who will enable their school to thrive.
P.S. I have a FREE webinar for board members coming up where part of the focus will be on strategic board member recruitment.
3 Keys to a Strategic Board
Thursday, January 21st at 3 pm EST (2 pm Central, noon Pacific)
Learn more here.
Writes about small school leadership and governance