Taking Board Diversity to the Next Level

It’s encouraging to see boards increasingly focusing on gender and ethnicity, as well as diversity, but many are still struggling to fulfill their potential. Boards that rely on the recruitment of diverse directors to “check boxes” might end up with a board that is demographically diverse but lacking in cognitive diversity, which could hinder the effectiveness of the board.

When diversity is introduced to an organization in the right method, the results could be transformative. If women are represented on the board, their viewpoints on topics like merchandising and marketing are able to be incorporated on the discussions. The result is a better understanding of the customer and their requirements, which can increase profits and sales.

Diversity can also help improve the workplace environment of the company. For example the board with members with a diverse demographic can be more aware of issues related to sexual harassment and workplace discrimination and Board Diversity more likely to anticipate changes in attitudes of employees towards equal pay and other corporate practices.

If a board would like to take its diversity initiatives to the next level, a good place to start is by considering what it should be like in the near future and how it will find and recruit candidates with the appropriate qualifications, experience, and connections to get it happen. To achieve this, the board can conduct a self-assessment of their current composition. It can also utilize tools like Michigan Nonprofit Association’s board diversity tool to stimulate candid conversations between board members as well as key stakeholders about what they look for in terms of diversity.