Data continues to show that diverse teams and boards produce better results for both established and startup companies. But that doesn’t mean finding the right talent for your team is going to be easy.
You’re going to have to look in different places to find different talent. If we’ve learned anything from social networks it’s that their members tend to look and think like each other - these bubbles are not where you’re going to find talent that thinks differently than you do. You’re going to need to deliberately expand your network. Finding a board member from your investor pool is going to yield a middle-aged white guy (I’m speaking for me).
The same is true for finding more women for your executive team. If your recruiter or network isn’t producing the right talent, find a new recruiter. Be explicit in your ask. It’s easy for founders to be lazy here. You’re not after a token, you’re after a contributor.
Most Venture Board members are there to watch their money. They likely have an MBA or experience on the deal side and understand finance. That’s great, but you don’t need everyone at the table that has the same skill set or perspective.
Your first Independent Board Member can fill a strategic role, not currently filled by your executive team. If your team is strong on tech, but light on Marketing, look for a female board member that can help you with the strategy - you can hire a more junior person to manage the execution.
Your VC will likely tell you that you don’t need an independent board member this early. If they can help you grow the company and have better results it’s a no brainer.
You won’t likely be able to sell to markets that you don’t understand, so having a female perspective on your customers will be helpful in your go-to-market and product.
Just know that one woman on the Board will give you perspective you don’t have. Two will make an even bigger impact.