At Womenalia, our mission is to achieve greater numbers of women in leadership roles by helping women, one by one, to achieve their professional goals. As a company we have decided to focus our efforts and our platform on helping the largest underrepresented group in business – women – but we do believe that this is part of a larger question that is not 100% gender-focused – that of diversity. This is not just a women issue. It's not just an issue that women care about. Diversity in companies at the highest levels and throughout management roles is, as the author puts it "simply smart business".
Mike Myatt presents a compelling argument in his following article on why more than just women, minorities and other under-represented groups need to care about a diverse workplace at the top.
I do quite a bit of work on matters of board composition, selection and succession, and what I can tell you is this; board diversity is simply smart business. You’ll never hear me recommend diversity solely for the sake of checking a box, but when diversity is the boardroom offers so many benefits to the CEO (and to the entire organization) it’s nothing short of irresponsible for chief executives not to place their board composition under the microscope. In today’s column I’ll share with you the top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom.
I was having an interesting conversation the other day with my colleague Patricia Lenkov, who chairs out executive search practice at N2growth. She recently spoke at the Global Women’s Leadership Summit and just came off of a 2020 Women on Boards event in New York last week that examined gender diversity and the bottom line. Patricia’s passion is board work, and like me, she has seen just about everything when it comes to the variety of agendas, motivations, and expectations when it comes to building a board – they may often be well intentioned, but they are not healthy. We came to the conclusion that many CEOs and nominating committees simply focus on the wrong things for the wrong reasons when it comes to board composition – specifically when it comes to the topic of diversity.
It’s not uncommon for a CEO’s first instinct to be to create a board that looks good in public, and that also carries come cachet with important constituencies – laudable goals but not necessarily lofty ones. Looking good and being good are not always one in the same. There are also come CEOs who desire to have a board that’s easy to manage – a board that’s compliant and one that doesn’t push back. A board’s purpose is to govern not comply. A good board listens, contributes, challenges and when necessary pushes back.
In my experience I’ve found that the best boards are also the most diverse boards. They can offer a depth and breadth of insight, perspective and experience to CEOs that non-diverse boards simply cannot. When I mention diversity, I’m addressing more than age, ethnic and gender diversity, but also diversity in skills, competencies, philosophies and life experiences as well. I wanted to get very specific about the value of diversity in the boardroom, so I asked Patricia for her opinions on the subject – she sent me 10 bullet points and I liked them so much I wanted to share them with you. Here are Patricia’s top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom:
- It reflects the real world – something every company should be sensitive to.
- Healthy debate can lead to better decisions.
- Divergent backgrounds mean tackling the same idea in different ways.
- Great ideas some from disruption of the status quo.
- Your clients and customers are diverse.
- This can make your company knowledgeable and sensitive to a wider variety of groups.
- Counsel from a variety of authorities is sensible.
- Setting an example at the top will hopefully have a trickle-down effect within the organization.
- Improved reputation and brand.
- A variety of backgrounds can make the company more adaptable to its ever changing environment.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be respected and admired as a CEO who values the benefits of diversity rather than a CEO criticized for their board’s lack thereof?
Originally published on Forbes.com