Boards as Social Outlets?

Boards as Social Outlets

This week over at Ag Women's Network, we are discussing the topic of getting more women involved on boards in Canadian agriculture. Certainly a topic of significant importance that would tremendously benefit boards and the people who work in not only the agriculture sector but in many other sectors as well.

One thought I had after much discussion this week (outside of the fact that YES more women should be more involved in boards and YES there are a variety of ways to achieve this), was the generational differences of why people join boards in the first place.

I commented recently on the fact that back in the day, many people (majority of them, men) joined boards I'm sure as a reason to 'get out of the house' because there was no technology and social media to 'catch up' with people. Face to face interactions were the ONLY way to communicate with others and boards provided this outlet. I'm generalizing when I say this of course, but perhaps this is why meetings were longer; why meetings didn't stay on track with an agenda/timing; and why board meetings were held so frequently..... because board meetings were a way to get together with friends and fellow community leaders WHILE helping a cause/event, etc.

Now, the new generation of board members, both who are a mix of male and female, who come from different generations and have a diverse range of experience, want meetings that are different. We want meetings that are efficient with time; that go through topics more fluidly; we want to be able to connect to meetings remotely through platforms like SkypeSlack, teleconferences, etc. We want to be efficient with our time because truthfully, time is precious to us. Because the 'new generation' has various methods of communicating and staying in touch with each other, boards aren't used in the same way as the 'social outlets' they once were.

In order to attract the right board members going forward for whatever cause your with, we have to remember that the purpose and reason as to why people join boards, has changed. Yes, boards are to be enjoyed by those who are on them - they are about networking, socializing and personal development. But at the end of the day, boards are not the same social outlets they once were. We now join boards because we want to make a difference and want to see results.  

What it really comes down to as a board member is "are you here to talk" or are you here to "get stuff done and help make change?"

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