EWNJ, aiming to prepare more women for board seats, partners with BoardSuited

Barbara E. Kauffman speaks at the event.

The leaders of the Executive Women of New Jersey have announced a partnership with BoardSuited to institute a series of programming they hope will help women increase their representation in various board service positions.

The program — founded by Joyce Brocaglia — is mainly a digital experience, which EWNJ officials find fits nicely into their push to do more digital programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BoardSuited is a nine-module program that walks users through various scenarios with tips from established professionals, with the goal of preparing women for public, private, advisory and nonprofit board candidacy. The course takes 12 hours to complete.

Joyce Brocaglia, CEO of Alta Associates.

Brocaglia, the CEO of Alta Associates, an executive search firm specializing in cybersecurity, and the founder of the Executive Women’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management and Privacy, said the personal tutorials in the program distinguish BoardSuited from similar platforms.

“When we talk about legal liability, we have an attorney who talks on their experience,” Brocaglia said. “When we talk about how to be selected for an advisory board, we have the CEO of a venture capital firm talking about what she looks for when she interviews potential board candidates.”

EWNJ President Barbara Kauffman said the implementation of BoardSuited will enable EWNJ to strengthen and expand its mission of ensuring women are prepared for and have equal access to corporate boards, while adhering to social distancing measures to ensure the safety of its members.

Being able to do so online is a necessity during in the current situation.

“In-person events and seminars have traditionally been a significant component of our programming and advocacy,” Kauffman said. “However, with social distancing mandates in place, we are adapting our work to continue to meet the needs of our members and find new opportunities to advance women’s leadership. Moving forward, online programming will become an even greater part of our engagement strategy.”

Kauffman said EWNJ also has started Women’s Wednesday, a weekly Zoom call that features mentors and informal conversations at the executive level. Kauffman said having the initiatives online has helped the organization attract potential new members, both a younger crowd that is more eager to participate in online events, and those from South Jersey, who could not participate in the more traditional networking events due to travel logistics.

Kauffman, the chief operating officer at the Newark Regional Business Partnership, said the move to online events has proven to be an opportunity for the group that it might have not encountered or attempted if it weren’t for the pandemic.

Brocaglia said the ease of use is key.

“This is a course that’s taken as an individual and that gives the user the flexibility to sign on anytime, anywhere,” she said.

BoardSuited has no barriers to entry, either. Previous board service or membership is not required.

Kauffman said BoardSuited fits perfectly as a partner to EWNJ.

“We are an organization that prides itself in helping women who are early in their career; this program helps women understand that you don’t just decide to get on a board and get on,” she said.

Both Kauffman and Brocaglia emphasize the first step to sitting on a corporate board often is getting involved with a nonprofit one. The course gives women the opportunity to assess their skills and identify gaps, so they have the time to course correct and gain the skills to make them as attractive as possible for board service.

The pair said the best way for women to get seats at the table of any board is to start planning their path there sooner rather than later, which BoardSuited helps them to do.

Nicole Alexander, the EWNJ Professional Development Committee chair and director of professional and business development at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, said she is eager to bring the BoardSuited platform to members and to amplify it for all women interested in leading change in the state.

“BoardSuited offers a robust and actionable curriculum that prepares professionals for attaining seats on corporate boards and for high-level leadership generally,” she said. “Moreover, it is ideal for women who are balancing work and family obligations, because the modules can be utilized at the convenience of the user. We’re excited to see the results and to bolster our changemaking work during this pivotal time.”

EWNJ officials said the ultimate benefit of the program could be the business community.

EWNJ’s biennial A Seat at the Table report explains that, for the last six years, companies with at least one woman director had better share price performance than those companies without women.