How to Serve on a Board or Commission

If you have ever wanted to land a leadership role in anything from overseeing state regulations to serving on a corporate board — a meeting Tuesday was all about the practical advice to get you there.

Two of the top women involved in appointing or promoting people for boards and commissions spoke to a group called “She Shares,” a powerful group of women focused on leadership and mentorships.

For corporate board positions, Diane Miller points out that women make up just 16 percent of the top 3,000 corporate boards, but they are at least half of the consumers in the country — so their viewpoints are important.

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Ignore the Time Clock: Take a Break When You’re Tired!

The 8 hour workday is a relic from days gone by.  It was originally put into place to get a handle on the hours spent in manual labor during the industrial revolution.  Technology has changed the way we work; isn’t it time we look differently at the 8 hour workday?

A recent Forbes article noted that for peak efficiency (productivity levels), 52 minutes of work followed by a 17 minute break—very, very different than our current work schedule.  Why? Because the brain naturally functions in short bursts of high energy, which is logically followed by a low energy cycle.  Let’s take this as permission to give yourself a break when you are tired; you’ll be much more productive if you do.

Younger vs. Older Workers — Are there Differences?

The Harvard Business Review has a great article on the assumptions we make regarding younger and older workers.  In looking at people from 24 to 80 and across industries, they found far fewer differences than we all imagined. In fact, many traits commonly associated with younger workers were the same across the workforce.

People of every age are becoming aware of the changing nature of work and reinvesting in themselves.  Whether workers continue past traditional retirement age due to financial pressures or the desire to do more, we all know the data shows that working longer is healthier than early retirement – healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally. And older workers are excited about their work, physically fit, and ready for new adventures.

Adding Diversity to Corporate Boards

In 2011, CalPERS and CalSTRS created an innovative response to the lack of diversity on corporate boards, The Diverse Director DataSource. 3D, as it is now known, is a database of director candidates seeking to be considered for board positions. Many of these candidates have served on corporate boards, many have not. All bring professional qualifications worthy of consideration. Since 3D was founded, the diversity debate in the United States has moved center stage. The evidence on diversity and performance – and the search for talent – has driven this issue to the top of the business agenda for 2017. 3D has one of the largest and most qualified pools of talent in the board diversity arena. Wilcox Miller & Nelson is delighted to be working on this.

CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ goal has been that 3D be housed in a venue which can provide leading edge technology for those seeking to make connections with candidates and to pool the 3D facility with other initiatives. After a thoughtful and fulsome vetting process, 3D moved to Equilar where it is now housed in their newly launched Equilar Diversity Network, the “registry of registries,” connecting candidates from various board diversity initiatives to companies seeking new directors. Additional information may be found at Equilar’s Diversity Network provides both technology and scale, with an opportunity for 3D candidates to be connected with a wider range of companies and candidates. We see this bringing critical mass and innovative technology to the pioneering work of 3D.

Want to join 3D? Please click on this link… There is no cost to do so.

Global Hiring Trends, 2017: Positive, Competitive, and Evolving

As we move into 2017, global research indicates employer budgets and hiring trends remain broadly positive. With sources such as ERE Media reporting a tight labor market in the US, along with decreased employee tenure and an increased blended workforce of employees/freelancers, the methods for attracting and retaining top talent for brand differentiation and competitive advantage need to continue evolving.

According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, estimated budgets and hiring projections by country are as follows:


While budgets for the year continue with traditional allocations, social referrals and online sources continue to build on their dominant positions. Roles such as Sales/Business Development, Operations, Engineering and Information Technology are most in demand, but our data-driven and security-conscious world will increase demand for roles such as Data Scientists and Cybersecurity specialists.


In 2017, we will see companies put a higher priority on finding more diverse candidates (37%), improving soft skill assessments (35%) and implementing innovative interviewing tools (34%). We also concur with the best practices for hiring and retention trends for 2017 from Forbes’ Dan Schwabel:

1.       Improved Candidate, Employee Experiences

2.       The Rise Of The Blended Workforce

3.       Reviews Evolve From Annual To Continuous

4.       Millennials Meet Gen Z

5.       Augmented, Virtual Reality Revolutionize Recruiting and Training

6.       The War For Talent Heats Up

7.       Performance Evolves From Individual To Team

8.       Workplace Wellness A Critical Benefit For Attracting Talent

9.       Employee Benefits/Perks Get Creative

10.    Workplace Attire, Culture Become More Casual

At Career Partners International, we will continue to bring you the best global trends and best practices in 2017, keeping you informed through our website blog, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts and our RSS feed. Contact us today to discuss your needs at 1.800.686.5999 or through our website.

How do we increase the cognitive diversity on boards?

It’s a common refrain not just in the boardroom and C-suite, but in business in general. In an area where finance, international, and technology backgrounds are the most in demand, it’s important that we broaden our thinking. The talent is there, we just need to be disciplined in sourcing and retaining it. For boards, consider:

  1. Looking more broadly, beyond the C-suite.
  2. Start building a board succession plan, if you don’t already have one. In it, start tracking a “talent pipeline” and regularly review and update it.
  3. Require that you see a slate that includes the cognitive diversity you seek. Interview those candidates and repeat if needed. Don’t interview candidates that don’t match your specifications.

If you are an internal candidate, remember that sponsorship is where you need to focus.  Mentorship is great, but sponsorship is the holy grail.

Women Working Together

I recently attended the California Women Lead’s “California’s 100 Most Powerful Women” conference in Torrey Pines. This was a first-time event for this nonpartisan organization and an engaging example of “girl power.” We had leaders from government (think Betty Yee, the California State Controller), Geisha Williams, whose promotion to the President and CEO position at PG&E was announced the first morning of the conference, plus entrepreneurs, business leaders, and state senators — a wonderful sampling of the women in our state. So what does that all mean? What did we accomplish?

It means that the private sector and the public sector have much to learn from each other; we all conceded that point. It means that this invitation-only network is the first in the nation to coalesce public- and private-sector women leaders into an ongoing network solely devoted to making their state better. And it  also means that there was enough energy, horsepower, and enthusiasm in that room to do so.

What did we accomplish? Time will tell, but the first meeting accomplished a definite and common interest in working together. And that’s a pretty good first step.

Diane D. Miller Appointed to the AARP Foundation Board

Diane D. Miller

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Diane D. Miller, the President and CEO of Wilcox Miller & Nelson in Sacramento, California, has been appointed to the AARP Foundation Board, which is based in Washington, DC.

The AARP Foundation Board of Directors announced today that Diane D. Miller of Sacramento, California will join their 10-member Board. The Foundation’s mission is to help those over 50 struggling with income, housing, isolation and hunger. Supported by vigorous legal advocacy, the Foundation creates and advances effective solutions that help older adults transform their lives. “I’m honored to join such a distinguished board and impactful foundation.  I look forward to the work ahead.”

Ms. Miller is President and CEO of Wilcox Miller & Nelson, a firm specializing in human capital management and governance consulting. She is a current Board, Audit Committee, PAC and Executive Committee member of the California Chamber of Commerce, the second largest state chamber in the United States.  She is a Board member and a former Board Chair of the California Host Committee, which annually gathers the top 1,000 California industry and government leaders. As well, she is one of the founders and a former Chairman of the Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors.  Ms. Miller served as a Regent for the University of the Pacific from 2007-2016, where she chaired the Audit Committee and served on the Executive Committee. During her tenure she also served on the University’s Technology, Compensation, Presidential Search, Branding, and Strategy Committees.  A director of Umpqua Holdings (a NASDAQ-traded financial services company in Oregon, California, Nevada and Washington) from 2004 to 2013, Ms. Miller served on the Compensation, Audit, and Loan and Investment Committees as the company grew from $1 billion to $12 billion in assets. Ms. Miller is also a former Board Chair of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

A certified public company director through the Director Certification Program at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business, Ms. Miller holds a current Certificate of Director Professionalism, Board Governance Fellow, Master, and Cybersecurity designations from the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). Since 2007, she has been facilitating public, private and nonprofit company board evaluation and governance education programs.

About the AARP Foundation

The mission of the AARP Foundation is to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50 and over. The AARP Foundation has the ability to support and work with local organizations and programs nationwide to coordinate, fill in the gaps and help effective initiatives grow. The Foundation targets efforts on four key, interrelated priorities where action and legal advocacy can have the greatest impact: income, housing, hunger, and isolation.

About Wilcox Miller & Nelson

Founded in Sacramento, California in 1979, Wilcox Miller & Nelson (WMN) has more than 37 years of experience providing retained executive and board search, governance consulting, and executive transition and coaching services to a national clientele.  The firm is a shareholder of Career Partners International.

About Career Partners International

Established in 1987, Career Partners International is one of the world’s largest and most successful global providers of talent management solutions. Organizations of all sizes and industries turn to Career Partners International to successfully assess, engage, develop and transition talent using the expertise of over 1600 highly experienced professionals in the areas of assessment, executive coaching, leadership development and outplacement. With more than 200 offices in over 40 countries around the world, Career Partners International assures that its clients have local experts in talent development, career management, executive coaching, outplacement and career transition services. Additional information can be found by visiting

What to Watch For in 2016

Each year I find myself declaring that the profession of directorship has become more challenging than it was in the previous year. I believe we’ve now reached the point where we should recognize this escalation as the status quo, not an annual anomaly. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s director qualification disclosure requirements, the advent of proxy access, and the increasingly public role of shareholder activists have contributed to a business environment in which directors’ qualifications and performance are continually scrutinized.

Kenneth Daly NACD CEONACD’s mission is to help directors lead with confidence—and to foster stakeholders’ confidence in their directors’ ability to effectively serve their companies. I’d like to highlight three critical issues that we believe directors—of all company types—should focus on during the year ahead.

1. Director Awareness

The dramatic slowdown in China’s economy, plummeting oil prices, recent terrorist activities, and the rise of the digital economy have put a fine point on the need for directors to be aware of disruptors that may cause a drastic change in sea conditions for their organizations.

No one can be expected to anticipate every potential disruption. (Who could have seen Uber idling around the corner?) But foresight comes down to one deceptively simple practice: asking the right questions. Are board members exploring the possible impacts of a terrorist act on the company’s supply chain, investigating their organization’s vulnerability to a cyber attack, or considering new competitors that can bring products to market faster than ever before and with nominal investment?  Throughout 2016 ourNACD Directorship 2020 initiative will continue to focus on disruptive forces, putting a spotlight on the issues that may affect your companies in the years to come.

Suggested NACD Resources:
Environmental and Innovative Disruption: What Directors Need to Know
Leveraging Social and Demographic Trends

2. Shareholder Activism

It goes without saying that activist investors have gotten our attention. A record-setting 355 activist campaigns were announced in 2015, including 33 against Fortune 500 companies. Last year was also a record year in terms of activist campaigns resulting in board seats—127 resulted in at least one board seat for the activist or the activist’s appointee. Our own annual survey of public-company directors found that 20 percent of respondents’ boards were approached by an activist investor in the past year. But nearlyhalf of respondents reported that they are unprepared for an activist challenge.

Activists aren’t practicing black magic; they are performing effective due diligence and smart analytics on their holdings. Boards need to think like activists and anticipate the issues these investors may raise. Do your company’s metrics fall outside industry norms? Does your board composition have any perceived weaknesses? Do you engage with management about the assumptions that undergird your company’s strategy? In 2016, NACD will continue to provide resources that can help your boards to anticipate—and respond to—emerging issues.

Suggested NACD Resources
Identify the Enemies of Effectiveness and Think Like an Activist
Investor Perspectives: Critical Issues for Board Focus in 2016

3. Mergers & Acquisitions

M&A activity reached record levels in 2015. Given this phenomenon, it’s more critical than ever that boards understand their role in M&A. We believe it boils down to readiness and oversight.

At any given time, directors may need to consider either the sale of their own company or the purchase of another company. The board must carefully weigh all opportunities to buy or sell as part of its routine corporate oversight. Be on the lookout for NACD’s new M&A Board Resource Center, which will be available later this quarter. The center will serve as a one-stop shop to help boards participate effectively in the evaluation of proposed M&A transactions.

Suggested NACD Resources
FAQs on the Role of the Board in M&A
Recorded Webinar:  The Extent of the Board’s Role in M&A

NACD Cyber Summit
On a final note, I’d like to call your attention to the 2016 NACD Cyber Summit, which will be held on June 15 in Chicago. With Congress now considering passage of a bill that would require companies to publicly identify the “cybersecurity experts” on their boards, scrutiny of the board’s role in cybersecurity oversight has never been greater. This year’s Cyber Summit will equip directors and management with the tools they need to foster cyber resiliency and confidently oversee cyber-risk management.

If you would like to receive additional resources on the three issues mentioned above or more information about the Cyber Summit, I encourage you to contact your dedicated NACD Concierge. If you have not yet had a chance to meet the concierge assigned to you, give us a call at 202-775-0509, and we’ll connect you.

Thank you for being an NACD member. I wish you a successful year ahead.