A Dozen Ways Boards Can Become More Diverse

 

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek June 13, 2019
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​A new report, Diversity in the Boardroom: Pushing Forward, Reaching Back, offers 12 recommendations on how boards of directors can diversify their membership.

  1. Review and discuss the latest research on how diversity adds value to the boardroom.

  2. Use company strategy and stakeholder expectations to establish the board's diversity goals. 

  3. Construct a board matrix that considers multiple dimensions of diversity—skill set, background and decision-making style—and review it each time the board refreshes its strategy.

  4. Seek a diverse slate for every board director search.

  5. Remove bias from search criteria.

  6. Develop pathways for the board to tap into new, diverse networks of qualified candidates. Numerous diversity-focused organizations, such as the Diverse Corporate Directors Coalition, Latino Corporate Directors Association and WomenCorporateDirectors, are options.

  7. Consider how diversity and unconscious-bias awareness can inform strategic insight.

  8. Exercise inclusive leadership. Examine micro-behaviors that may show up in a diverse board, such as a board member becoming impatient with a colleague for whom English is a second language.

  9. Be transparent. Consider offering opportunities to voluntarily self-identify such characteristics as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, veteran status, etc.

  10. Routinely review an organizational diversity score card. Metrics every board should monitor include, but not be limited to, pay data by gender, race and role; hiring, promotion and turnover rates by gender, race and career level; number of sexual-harassment claims; gender, race and career level representation, Patricia Milligan wrote in an article for the National Association of Corporate Directors. She is global leader for Mercer's multinational client group and its research initiative, When Women Thrive, in the New York City area.

  11. Hold management accountable for inclusive leadership.

  12. Consider how to leverage board members as role models, whether that includes having female board members meet with senior-level women in the organization or supporting a board member's walking in a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender pride parade.

    The recommendations are from a report by the KPMG Board Leadership Center and the WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation's Thought Leadership Commission.


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