Private corporations, family businesses, venture capital and private equity-back firms. Worldwide, these far outnumber the publicly-traded corporations covered in the business headlines. Yet corporate governance of this huge sector, how their boards function – and how a “boardroom wannabe” can gain a board seat with them – remain closely-held mysteries.

The February issue of online monthly Boardroom INSIDER cracks this private company governance code with several in-depth articles. “Private companies still need good fiduciary oversight, and have developed their own unique ways to supply it,” writes BI publisher and board speaker Ralph Ward. Among the discoveries:

pink Private entities can bring far more flexibility to their boards, with “everything from proper boards, to advisory groups, to a kitchen cabinet of kibitzers.” This lets family firms, venture-backed companies and so on target specific skills on an “as needed” basis (and reward them in ways that won’t fly in the public company sector).

pink Ward writes that we tend to view such closely-held firms as outside current pressures for boardroom diversity, but in fact they’re shaking up their membership due to inside pressures. At family firms, for instance, Ward finds “women family members and high-potential female executives want advocates in the boardroom.”

pink For the rising exec seeking a first board seat, private companies tend to be opaque, but the BI report notes that MBA programs, private business groups, specialized consulting firms, and venture/private equity advisors can offer vital ”board wannabe” connections. “Private company boards are also less hung up on candidates having previous board experience,” notes Ward.

Also in the February Boardroom INSIDER:

pink   Why “board busywork” is so crucial to good corporate governance.
pink   Five cool board portal tricks you should be using.
pink   How do I learn to be an effective board audit committee member?