How to Find Qualified Women to Serve on Corporate Boards


It’s not difficult to find qualified women to serve on corporate boards, but you must commit time and energy to look beyond the traditional board criteria. To make certain you will select a woman, it helps if you only interview women candidates for your board opening.

“We want to add a woman to our board. We just don’t know any!” is a common lament among CEOs and Nominating Chairs when asked why their boards don’t include women.

The challenge is that many corporate board members do not realize there are qualified women in their own networks of contacts, so they don’t know to reach out to potential women candidates. We suggest proactive steps:  Ask your CPA, law firms and bankers if their retired women partners might qualify or if they know of other qualified women.. Review the nonprofit boards where you or your board members serve to identify business women they know and admire.

Attend the annual 2020 Women on Boards “National Conversation on Board Diversity” events closest to you to hear women directors on panels and network with those in the audience. Check with your local university business schools that can help identify well-suited candidates from their alumni networks. Business and trade associations are excellent resources, also peruse business publications for articles about women of achievement.

Not all qualified board candidates mirror the traditional director profile which was most often current or former CEOs or executives with C-suite titles. Companies should consider the full spectrum of senior women executives who offer industry knowledge, operational experience and financial expertise.  Small business owners and division presidents of larger companies have direct P and L experience and could make excellent board members. Additional possible candidates could include college presidents or business school deans and professors, public sector leaders who understand government regulations, specialized attorneys and many more.

How to find a qualified woman director:

  • Contact your trade or professional associations to inquire about women who serve on their boards and are well-versed in your industry.
  • Ask your senior women executives whom they know and would recommend.
  • Review Linked In—enter key words, corporate boards, governance, and words that related to your industry—to find potential candidates.
  • Ask your industry association leaders about corporate women who have been impressive speakers at their conferences.
  • Contact the organization called WomenCorporateDirectors–their national office is in Florida–to inform women currently serving on boards about your board opening.
  • Contact your local university business school to find alumni of their board training or women’s leadership programs.
  • Identify businesswomen who are quoted in your trade media about their business perspectives.
  • Reach out to a retained executive search firm that handles board searches.