THE BLOG
11/10/2012 11:48 am ET Updated Jan 10, 2013

For Business Executives: Serving on Nonprofit Boards Is Good for Democracy

A business owner has been rebuked by many for coercing his employees to vote for a particular presidential candidate. Most of us are hold very dear the right and privilege to vote for the candidates of our choice, and we feel fortunate to live free in the United States. This company head crossed a line that is inviolate.

To the contrary, however, there is a way that business leaders can play a positive role in helping to create a better informed and more deeply engaged electorate. By role modeling and encouraging their executives and professionals to serve on nonprofit boards, corporate leaders can help to advance democracy.

When people serve on nonprofit boards where they can add value in forwarding a mission that is personally meaningful, they also learn about vital community and global challenges, government and private funding, and the perspectives of people from diverse backgrounds. Board members' site visits and meetings with clients open their eyes to the lives of others as well as new possibilities and solutions for the future.

Through service on nonprofit boards, business people learn about workforce development, housing, education, healthcare, arts and culture, renewable natural resources, climate change, and the relationship between these issues, commerce, public policy, and their own communities and neighborhoods. Imagine the vibrant exchange of learning and ideas that happens among people in a company where many serve on vast array of nonprofit boards -- not only in informal conversations but also in richer and more highly informed strategy meetings.

Nonprofit board service is the ultimate experience in leadership, ethics, accountability, group dynamics, crisis management and communications. Business leaders who want to advance democracy will encourage and support people at their companies to engage in service, including nonprofit board service. What better way to ensure a better informed and engaged electorate... and a better world.

Subscribe to Must Reads.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with their authors.