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Good news and bad news for Women on Boards, as Minister Wong launches BoardLinks aimed at giving women their first board appointment

There’s been good news and bad for me on the board front over the past week.  First the good news: I was present at the Australian Stock Exchange to see Minister Penny Wong launch the Government’s new BoardLinks initiative.  Board Links aims to provide more opportunities for women to be appointed to their first board, to launch and further their directorship careers, and increase the number of potential candidates for Australian Government boards.

A small group of Champions will advocate and publicly promote the Government’s initiative, as well as identify and encourage strong female candidates to consider Australian Government board positions.

Foundation champions in the program include Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, Telstra chairwoman Catherine Livingstone, businessman David Gonski, Australian Stock Exchange CEO Elmer Funke Kupper and director of Stocklands and the Womens Leadership Institute of Australia Carol Schwartz (who invited me along to the launch – many thanks, Carol).

On many levels, I think this is a great initiative, not the least that it was launched by the Minister for Finance – reinforcing the productivity opportunity that lies within the female talent in our country. Secondly, it aims to address a specific obstacle women face in the board appointment process – the lack of relevant comparable experience – by providing support into that vital first appointment.

The Government has issued a Board Links fact sheet that you can review here.  I’ll of course be following the developments of BoardLinks in the coming months and will keep you updated.

In the mean time, if a Government Board is on your hit list, my advice to you is to find out how you can connect with one of the new champions and signal your interest in being involved.

So then the bad news? You may be aware that I wasn’t successful in my bid to join the board of UN Women Australia.  Of course my first reaction was to hide in the closet and tell no one of my defeat!  But nonetheless I’m over the disappointment and I really want to thank the many of you who voted for me – with a special thanks to Ruth, Claire and Louise at Women On Boards for their help in spreading the word.  I also  congratulate those members who were successful in being re elected; in the end it came down to a membership vote and I did well, but not well enough and simply didn’t have the numbers this time around.

And yet I share this news because of what it is what it is: an opportunity, a lesson, a chance to learn.  So what did I learn?

  1. I’m reminded of the power of my networks and it was a good excuse to reconnect with so many of you 🙂
  2. I certainly have a better knowledge of the process for next time around: I know need to plan better in the future for member based votes, articulate my strengths better, and not leave my run so late!
  3. It’s only strengthened my relationship with UNWomen and my desire to support their goals through the work that I’m doing
  4. This process has reaffirmed commitment and renewed energy to my current role as Chair of Peer Support Australia, and has been helpful as I’ve been evaluating new additions to my own board there
  5. Perhaps another no simply gets me closer to a yes?

And because – of course – you’ve got to be in it to win it. We’ve ALL got to be in it to win it.  And we ALL have to keep putting ourselves forward.

So I already have an eye on my next target in line with my own goal to attain one more board appointment, this time I’m focused on a Government board and I hope I’ll have some better news to share on that front in the future!

I know many of you are also seeking board appointments this year… would love to hear how you are going in your process, there must be some lessons you’ve learned too and I’m sure many wins along the way??


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