Taking Board Diversity to the Next Level

While it’s gratifying that boards are focusing more on addressing issues with respect to gender, ethnicity and diversity in the boardroom, many are struggling to realize www.affordableboard.com/4-key-components-of-a-successful-strategic-plan/ their true potential. Boards that treat the recruiting of diverse directors as a “check box” exercise could end with a largely diverse board, but one that is not cognitive diversity, which can significantly reduce board effectiveness.

If diversity is brought into boards in a positive manner, the results can be transformative. For example, when women are on boards and their views on issues like merchandising or marketing are brought to bear in deliberations, the result can be an increased understanding of customers and their requirements that can boost profits and sales.

The benefits of diversity may also be extended to the company’s external environment. A board with a diverse population can be more aware of issues such as gender discrimination and sexual harassment and better equipped to anticipate changes in attitudes of employees regarding equal pay and workplace practices.

If a board is considering to move its efforts to increase diversity to the next step it’s best to consider what it will look like and how it can identify and recruit candidates that have the skills, knowledge experiences, and contacts for that. To this end you could think about conducting an assessment of its own composition and using resources like Michigan Nonprofit Association’s board diversity tool to encourage honest discussions among board members and key stakeholders about what the board’s priorities are in terms of diversity.

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