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She’s On Board: Giving Women the Tools They Need to Succeed in the Boardroom

Balch & Bingham proudly joined the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi and the Junior League of Jackson to sponsor the foundation’s inaugural She’s on Board event on June 8, 2018, which brought together women across Mississippi for a day of learning and mentorship regarding board leadership. The day-long event included speakers who covered all aspects of board service including the duties/responsibilities of a board member, an introduction to non-profit finance, things to consider before joining a board, and a panel discussion about different paths to leadership.

The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi is the only grantmaking and advocacy organization in the state entirely dedicated to funding programs that improve the lives of women and girls statewide. By cultivating social change, the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi is committed to helping women and girls transcend the state’s dire social and economic barriers – because when women are economically secure, safe, and healthy, then families and communities are economically secure, safe, and healthy.

Tara Ellis, managing partner of the firm's Jackson office and member of the Corporate and Gaming Practices, and Kye C. Handy, attorney in the firm's Jackson office and member of the Litigation Practice, are doing their part to promote women in the boardroom. At She’s On Board, Tara spoke on Balch’s own diversity initiatives, and Kye participated in a panel discussion on the importance of diversity in board composition and the value of bringing diverse and varied voices to the table. 

Balch’s diversity and inclusion efforts are focused on hiring, retaining and advancing top quality attorneys and staff, maintaining leadership throughout our community and supporting diversity initiatives that are dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession.

We are committed to setting an example in the communities in which we live and work, and raising the standards for diverse workplaces both in the legal industry and beyond.  We were proud to support She’s On Board in partnership with the Women's Foundation of Mississippi and the Junior League of Jackson.

We sat down with Tara and Kye to discuss the impact of She’s On Board:

 

Tell us about She’s on Board.

Kye: She’s on Board equips women with valuable tools they may not be able to find otherwise.  Not only does the event encourage women to pursue board opportunities, but it helps prepare them for the rigor of participating on a non-profit or for-profit board. This focus on education strengthens women’s confidence to actively pursue leadership positions and provides a diverse voice and ideology which can only aid boards in becoming more productive.

 

What tools did She’s on Board provide to women?

Tara: She’s on Board provided resources on paths to leadership, a frank discussion about different leadership styles, and ways in which to interact with others and respond to conflict. We also covered fundamentals of board service, such as fiduciary obligations, interpreting financial statements, and considering Robert’s Rules of Order.


She’s on Board provided sessions that focused on personal and professional development. What was your favorite part of the event? 

Tara: The energy in the room was amazing! It was inspiring to see so many women eager to co-mentor and learn from each other. 

Kye: The opportunity to not only learn from other women with far more experience than I have, but to share the knowledge I have gained was inspiring to me. I was not prepared for the overwhelming wealth of helpful knowledge and leadership the women participating displayed. It was humbling to be amongst these leaders, knowing that one day I could also have an influential platform for positively impacting others.

What opportunities are there to for women to get involved in the Mississippi business community?

Tara: To encourage attendees to plug into the local community and showcase the wealth of opportunity and options, the Women’s Foundation provided a list of non-profit organizations within the area seeking new board members within the year. 

Kye: The event provided the attendees with knowledge to help them understand financial statements for 501(c)3s. Presenters also gave advice on problems commonly faced by women when serving on a board.

After spending time with She’s on Board attendees, what is the biggest takeaway for you personally? 

Tara: There is a huge appetite among the women in our community both for delving into leadership roles and for training on how to do so effectively. This is so encouraging, and I believe that it means that we will see more and more women in the boardroom, leading organizations and running for office.