Young Leaders take Board Seats

Posted on 24th March 2014 by Christabelle Harris


Aged care provider Southcare has appointed its first board member under 30 years of age in a move it hopes will motivate other young people to follow suit.

Ashley Dawson, who is 29, was officially appointed to the board following a program intended to inject more youth into the aged care sector.

Southcare chief executive Nicky Howe is one of the key drivers of the Young Leaders in Aged Care program launched earlier this year, which is funded by a social innovation grant worth $180,000.

“You only have to look around the boards and committees of most aged care and community organisations to see that they are full of, dare I say it, grey-haired men”.  Ms Howe told Business News.

“So the motivation for me was about getting diversification on to boards and making sure that we have good governance and future governance.”

Fellow aged care providers MercyCare and Baptistcare were also part of the program to educate young leaders on board directorships and have since appointed younger members, but Ms Howe said it took some convincing to get involvement from others.

“I’d have chief executives ring me up and say “are you for real?” she said.

“I think (older board members) do have legitimate concerns, when you’re a board member you do have a lot of responsibilities they saw (lack of experience) as the barrier.

“But lack of experience is only one of the issues of not being an effective board member, there’s a whole load of things that make a board member ineffective.”

Ms Dawson was introduced to the Southcare board under a traineeship, and appointed as a member at the board’s last meeting.

She said her motivation for getting involved stemmed from working the aged care sector as a university student, reinforced by her accounting experience and seeing clients navigate boardroom strategy.

But the agreed there was a definite scepticism at her ability to contribute.

“It’s just about age, and I think there’s an assumption that a young person doesn’t have life experience, so how can they contribute to a board.” Ms Dawson said.

“But it’s not just about having a number of years clocked up on the board, it’s also about having a different skill set and a different perspective.

“The not-for-profit sector as a whole needs to embrace programs like this, otherwise in five or 10 years’ time we’re going to be severely lacking n board members at all.”

Seats on a not-for-profit board can often open the door to corporate directorships, but Ms Dawson said that was not her intention.

It shouldn’t be a springboard just to get on to a corporate board.  The sector is just crying out for new people,” she said.


Source:  WA Business News Article published on 21st November 2013 written by Shanna Crispin

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