Gen Z moves into boardrooms

Boardrooms are still dominated by baby boomers and Gen Xers — but in some spaces, younger voices have a seat at the table, Fortune reported Sept. 15. 

The average age of a board member is 51.9, according to a report from career intelligence platform Zippia. But in 2022, 18 percent of the incoming class of new directors were under 50 — a two percent increase from 2021, according to a S&P 500 report. 

Some boards are looking for Gen Z members to "address very specific gaps in skills or expertise on the board," Megan Wang, CEO of online talent marketplace TheBoardList, told the publication. Her organization has seen an increase in the number of posts open to first-time directors. 

Ross O'Leary, a 27-year-old senior account manager at a PR firm, joined the board of industry network Blockchain Ireland this year. He believes the experience is helping his career, and the organization is benefitting from his unique perspective. 

"It is important for industries as a whole to have younger voices at the table, because we have a unique perspective, especially when it comes to industries that are engaged with young people," Mr. O'Leary told Fortune. "They get more out of me the more they let me throw my hat in the ring."

Madeline Lawrence — a 25-year old investor at Peak in Berlin and a director on three boards for finance and data organization platforms — echoed this sentiment, but acknowledged it can be intimidating to be the youngest in the room. 

"Once you get a seat, the founder may ask a question, and there's silence. It's easy to think the guy next to me knows better—and it probably is a guy—and then they say the same thing you were thinking," she told the publication. "It's sort of an impostor syndrome."

Organizations tapping young board members should remember what this generation values: "a specific way of working collaboratively and with mutual respect," Ms. Wang said.

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