Taking Board Diversity to the Next Level

While it’s good to see that boards www.affordableboard.com/4-key-components-of-a-successful-strategic-plan/ are focusing more on addressing gender, ethnicity and diversity in the boardroom, a lot of boards are struggling to realize their true potential. Boards that use the recruitment of diverse directors to “check boxes” may end with a board which is demographically diverse, but lacking in cognitive diversity, which could make it difficult for boards to function effectively.

If the right diversity is brought to a board and the results can be transformative. When women are included on a board, their perspectives on subjects like merchandising or marketing can be brought to bear on the discussions. The result is a better understanding of the customer’s needs, which will boost sales and profit.

Diversity can also improve the company’s environment. A board with a diverse demographic is more observant of issues such as gender discrimination and sexual harassment and better equipped to anticipate changes in attitudes of employees about equal pay and corporate policies.

If a board is planning to expand its efforts in diversity to the next step it’s a good idea to think about what it might look like and how it will identify and hire candidates who have the skills, knowledge, experience and contacts necessary for that. In this regard it may want to conduct an assessment of its own composition, and utilizing resources like Michigan Nonprofit Association’s board diversity tool to spark candid conversations among board members and important stakeholders about what the board’s requirements are in terms of diversity.

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