To build a diverse board, companies need to enlarge the candidate pool they draw from. For those looking to boost women’s participation specifically, this required understanding – and accepting as legitimate – the varied pathways women often take to a board seat.

Korn Ferry’s report, Beyond ‘if not, why not’ the pathway to directorship for women in leadership, surveyed 57 female directors in Australia who were appointed to listed boards after 2010, when the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) introduced changes to its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations on the reporting of diversity—known as the “if not, why not” disclosure rule. The survey examines the paths women took to arrive on the boards of Australia’s largest listed companies and highlights the importance of a strong network, usually gained throughout the course of an executive career, for women who seek board roles. It also reveals that while women’s experiences on boards are mostly positive, diversity on Australia’s listed boards remains an issue.

The 57 women surveyed share how they managed their career in readiness for a board position, how they prepared to become a non-executive director, how they selected the boards they joined, and how they ensure their voices are heard around the board table.

Beyond ‘if not, why not’ the pathway to directorships for women in leadership provides valuable advice for executives who hope one day to have a board career. It also supplies insight for boards that wish not only to recruit female directors, but to foster an environment that attracts women to board service. 

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