How can HR professionals land a board position?

Spending your whole career in HR may hinder your ability to land a seat at the boardroom table. So what's the answer?

HR professionals can and do add effective and strategic value to many boards nationwide. But, there’s no substitute for having line experience if you want to increase your chances of landing a plum board role, according to Ruth Medd, executive chair of Women on Boards.
“We have plenty of HR professionals as members of Women on Boards. It’s those people who have had strategic HR exposure who are able to position themselves as being useful additions to boards – or alternatively, useful additions to board sub-committees,” Medd explained.
“At some stage, though, you do need to get a bit of line experience to enhance your opportunities; you don’t need to spend your whole career in HR.”
Having Asian experience on your CV will elevate your chances of gaining a board position, as you’re “able to fly your flag of global experiences in your career”, Medd added.
As to the specific board roles HR should initially aim for, Medd believes there plenty of areas where you can demonstrate unique worth.
“There’s a fair few boards around the place that would value someone with strategic HR expertise,” she said.
“I see some themes developing. With the big kerfuffles we’ve had about senior executive salaries in listed companies, the role of the remuneration subcommittee is very important, and typically HR will be advisors to that board.”
Diversity is also a key issue where HR can draw from professional experiences to offer strategic insight.
“Diversity is all about workforce participation and retaining qualified staff as the population ages, along with issues surrounding the representation of a company in the eyes of a stakeholder. How you properly treat people is something that HR is concerned about,” Medd said.
“There are also opportunities within boards that are basically about admin review, and they all follow a very similar process. So if you’ve got that background in people management, and you have good policies for issues like diversity and sexual harassment, you can demonstrate you have unique value to add to the board.”

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