A fascinating stat somewhat buried in the 2010 Board of Directors Survey recently released by Heidrick & Struggles and WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) is this —
• It takes women about 2.4 years to achieve their first board seat once they start actively seeking a corporate directorship; the comparable "time in search" for men is 1.4 years.
The one-year difference in male-female board seating is an interesting story in itself. But my reaction to this statistic is this: Call me just a tad skeptical.
I say that based on years of anecdotal reports from close readers of Directors & Boards who have written and called me for counsel on the best ways to be considered for a corporate board. My sense from these interactions is that it typically takes longer — sometimes a lot longer — than the 1-3 years cited in the survey.
Here is one such seeker, who emailed me this note about a year ago:
When I turned 50, I felt like I had enough experience to add value to a public board of directors. I had served on private boards, and had also briefly been chairman of a public company. I want to serve for a public company. I joined the National Association of Corporate Directors, and began soliciting smaller public companies to serve on their boards. I even solicited pink sheet companies. I solicited private equity firms to serve on the boards of portfolio companies. I signed up with headhunters, and Nasdaq Board Recruiting. In the last several years, I have sent my CV to hundreds of people, and made hundreds of telephone calls. I have been in the running, but so far no board positions.