How to create diverse boardrooms

how to create diverse boardrooms

According to data from Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), over half of Fortune 500 boards currently have 40 percent of their seats held by white women and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. The data suggests we are headed in the right direction, however, research from the Financial Times still suggests we have a long way to go.  

What is equality and diversity? 

In the workplace, the term diversity refers to those represented in the workforce. Examples of diversity include ethnic diversity, age diversity, gender diversity, physical ability and neurodiversity. These are just some examples, however, what is deemed diverse can range widely. 

Diversity goes beyond gender or ethnic diversity; it is also vital to have diversity in how people think in the workplace. Equality then surrounds ensuring that each individual in the workplace has equal opportunities. It recognises that historically particular groups of individuals with protected characteristics like disability, sex, and race have experienced discrimination. 

How to create diverse boardrooms 

Now that you have a greater understanding of what equality, and diversity mean in the workplace, let’s talk about how to create more diverse boardrooms. Below are some steps you can take to establish an inclusive and diverse board.

Create policies and procedures to drive an inclusive culture 

If you want to create a diverse boardroom, the first place to begin is by creating boardroom policies and procedures designed to help you achieve a diverse and inclusive culture. 

These policies and procedures should reflect a culture of belonging, trust, and respect for all perspectives, establishing an environment whereby directors are encouraged to suggest ideas and participate. 

Elect board leadership to encourage diversity

Each member of a board can greatly drive the progress of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the boardroom. In saying that, board leaders have the biggest direct impact due to their positions. 

Independent Board Chairs and Lead Directors can act as champions for diversity, helping the board increase its diversity and offer oversight on diversity in the organisation as a whole. 

Take accountability by measuring progress

There’s no denying that what does not get measured, does not get managed. The management team and CEO of companies are responsible and accountable for driving and measuring progress on diversity throughout the entire business. However, boards can also take concrete action to set the tone by simply improving their reporting. 

They should be under the assumption that investors will continue to request more disclosure regarding the diversity of the board. By assuming this and disclosing diversity, boards can get ahead of the curve by telling their diversity story affirmatively. When doing this, ask yourself whether the board is disclosing its diversity metrics fully and how the board is overseeing diversity metrics throughout the whole business. 

Try not to define seats as diverse

This one is more of a best practice than concrete guidance, however, it is important to avoid defining seats as diverse. As boards start to diversify, it is vital that directors recognise their own biases and do not view diversity as simply a check box. 

Creating and maintaining a diverse board is an ongoing process. Boards that are the most successful in this venture will embrace a mindset that sees directors’ search as an opportunity to drive diverse boardrooms. 

Summary 

It is important to remember that equality, diversity, and inclusion are not just about characteristics such as race or age but also about having people with different perspectives. All of this helps businesses to grow and succeed while being well-positioned to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges. The time to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organisation is now, and you can learn how with our Diploma in Business Sustainability course. 

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