Here’s Why Mississippi Women Need She’s on Board
March 1, 2023 - Events, General News - Posted by Women's Foundation Team
Want to give back to your community? Serving on a nonprofit board is a great way to do it. With more women at the table, boards are better positioned to address issues impacting Mississippi’s women and girls. Plus, your local nonprofit may need you now more than ever, given the ongoing national workforce shortage.
To get an insider’s perspective, we spoke to Mary Purvis, Chair Elect at the Women’s Foundation and speaker at our training event She’s on Board, about nonprofit board service and why She’s on Board is such a valuable resource in this regard.
Here’s what she had to say*(with a few supporting facts sprinkled in):
Diversifying our boards is especially important in Mississippi
“In Mississippi, it’s so important that we look to diversify our nonprofit boards,” Purvis said. “There is so much commitment and enthusiasm and energy for community service in Mississippi–we are such a generous state! With that in mind, I think we need to be intentional about how we build out these opportunities for people to get involved in their communities.”
And the statistics show that Southern hospitality is alive and well in Mississippi. According to 2021 data from AmeriCorps, 1 in 5 Mississippi residents volunteered their time at local organizations, and 1 in 2 residents helped their neighbors in need. With generosity being the core of our state, nonprofit board service is a great way to do what comes naturally to us–and that’s giving back. Plus, diversity makes nonprofit boards strong, as Purvis suggested in our discussion:
“Strong boards are made from having a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and voices at the table.”
When nonprofits have diverse board members, they’re able to address issues impacting their communities more effectively. Every nonprofit board should reflect the community they serve–and that means welcoming different perspectives, life experiences, and using those insights to bring their service to its highest potential.
She’s On Board Really Will Get You Ready for Board Service
“You can’t really talk about women on boards, without talking about She’s on Board,” Purvis said. “The training is incredible and so valuable. You’ll walk away with about 3 years’ worth of board experience and knowledge just from listening to the speakers.”
She’s on Board isn’t just about leadership. It’s about taking the guesswork out of nonprofit board service. So, in addition to learning leadership skills, participants will learn the essential tools they’ll need to navigate the boardroom. It’s a day-long training full of energy, insight, and empowerment, as Purvis described:
“There’s so much happening in that room on that day. We go over what happens in a board meeting–how you prepare, what to expect, what parliamentary procedure is and how it’s used during the decision-making process. We unpack common questions like: ‘How do boards make decisions? How do boards handle and resolve conflict?’. We really try to demystify the board meeting, and address topics that may seem intimidating to people. The goal is to help people feel comfortable with the process and to empower them. Plus, they get an opportunity to network and meet other people that are interested in engaging with this work, which is really a great thing.”
Women’s Voices Matter, Always
Women are invaluable to nonprofit boards–and research shows that their experience helps organizations do more for their communities. According to this study conducted by researchers at Binghamton University, having more women in leadership roles on nonprofit boards led to “improved outcomes” for the organization, since nonprofits were more likely to develop strategic plans that improved their performance.
“As a community and as a board, we have to be intentional about placing women at the table,” Purvis said. “But not only that, there needs to be more women in all spaces. Women’s voices and perspectives are important, in every room and at every table where decisions are being made.”
Another important takeaway from the study is that boards need multiple women–the magic number being 30% board representation. Having just one woman on board actually can hurt an organization’s performance and also make that person hesitant to speak up and participate in board decisions.
It’s an Exciting Time Get on Board
“The old-school concept of board service as a position of power and prestige is rightfully going by the wayside,” said Purvis. “Community impact and systemic change is the future of board service–and we need diverse boards to help make that happen.”
The future of nonprofit board service is bright and exciting. Taking the first step–whether through volunteering or attending She’s on Board–can help you give back to your community and inspire the next generation of leaders in our state.
Hear from Mary Purvis at She’s on Board! The event will take place on March 24, 2023 at the Junior League of Jackson. Click here to reserve your spot! She’s on Board is sponsored by The Women’s Exchange at Merrill Lynch.
*Responses edited for clarity and brevity.