Four reasons why you should join a board

It's more than just another section for your CV. If you've never thought about joining a board, I'm here to convince you of the benefits.

Four reasons why you should join a board

When you consider it, you probably know joining a board (beyond your own) makes good professional sense. It can be a great way of giving back and can align with your other business interests. Perhaps you’ve discounted the idea because you don’t think you’d get through the selection process, or you don’t have the time to do it justice? Having supported charity boards for over twelve years and now taking on a non-executive director role at an investment fund, I hope I can persuade you of the many advantages.

Reason one: to make a difference

There are loads of charities and businesses of different sizes that are looking for trustees or non-executive directors. Take your time to find one that really aligns with your own values and aims. Not only will it be more enjoyable, but you’ll be more likely to get through the selection process as genuine enthusiasm is hard to fake.

Reason two: it’s a development challenge 

You will meet cool people and not so cool people and take learning from both. Seeing how others act in the board room and working with people who are experts in fields you are less experienced in will expand your own learning. We can easily become too siloed in our own environments so working in another will challenge your thinking and perspective which can grow your own business.

Reason three: you’ll grow your profile

Being on a board gets your name in front of a whole new, and probably considerable, audience. You’ll likely be tagged in (or create) various posts on social media and featured in press articles. It adds variety to your CV and accomplishments making it easier for you to get known amongst your peers and beyond.

Reason four: achieve an additional income stream

This shouldn’t be the driver for your application and most charity roles will be voluntary but once you have a few under your belt, you might be tempted to apply for a paid role. These provide the benefits already listed but have the added bonus of pay and/or equity. Typical pay for a start-up NED role would be £10-25k per year for a time commitment of around one day per month. Fees increase dramatically at the other end of the scale with base fees for a FTSE 100 NED £100-300k, with additional fees for each committee position.

Is it worth it?

While the benefits are clear to see, there are several responsibilities that you must consider. The time commitment must not be underestimated. 10 days per year is typical but some roles may require significantly more. The time required should be listed in the advert but ask questions about this at interview, or reach out to any existing NEDs to learn more about the role. It is not just rocking up for the meetings. There will be reading to do and possibly ongoing projects you might get involved in. 

There is a legal responsibility when taking on a NED role where you will be listed at Companies House and be responsible for the business and its future sustainability and growth. With a charity, you’ll also be listed at the Charities Commission. This is a significant liability for a role in which you have little contact time with the organisation, are likely to be removed from the day-to-day operations and have infrequent contact with your fellow directors.

You’ve got your rep to protect. Any scandal created by the company will impact on your reputation and we can all think of companies who have generated negative press – I wouldn’t fancy being associated with P&O Ferries right now for example. The upside can be benefiting from the association. If the charity or business you sit on the board of is doing great things, you’ll enjoy the benefits of that – including it being super easy to get conversations with people you want to speak to and being invited to fun events.

If you discover the opportunities that you’re passionate about and make a positive impact, joining a board is more than worth it.

Sophie Milliken
Sophie Milliken

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