It’s encouraging to see boards increasingly focusing on gender and ethnicity, as well as diversity, but many are struggling to fulfill their potential. Boards that treat the recruitment of diverse directors as a «check box» exercise may end with a largely diverse board, but one lacking cognitive diversity, which can significantly decrease the effectiveness of the board.
When the right diversity is brought to a board and the affordableboard.com results can be transformational. For example, when women are on the board and their perspectives on issues like merchandising or marketing are brought to the table during deliberations and the result is an improved understanding of the customer and their needs. This will likely increase sales and profits.
The benefits of diversity also be extended to the company’s environment. For example, a board with members who are diverse in demographics could be more attuned to issues involving discrimination in the workplace and sexual harassment and more likely to anticipate changing attitudes of employees towards equal pay and other corporate practices.
If a board is considering to take its efforts in diversity to the next step it’s a good idea to consider what it will look like and how it will identify and hire candidates who possess the knowledge, skills experiences, and contacts to accomplish that. To achieve this, the board might perform a self-assessment on its current composition. It can also make use of tools like Michigan Nonprofit Association’s tool for diversity on the board to stimulate candid conversations between board members and key stakeholders on what it looks for in terms of diversity.