A new report from WomenCorporateDirectors with audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP’s Board Leadership Center shows specific steps companies can take to increase diversity at the board level – and how this effort can drive change deeper in the organization.
“Diversity in the Boardroom: Pushing Forward, Reaching Back,” released at the 2019 WCD Global Institute in Silicon Valley, was developed by the 2019 WCD Thought Leadership Commission. It adds clarity and specificity to the conversation around board composition, focusing on the issue as part of the company strategy, with defined steps to be taken.
“Directors have it in their hands to change the face of the boardroom,” says Susan C. Keating, CEO of WCD. “We can also reach back – to the leaders emerging in the organization – to drive change around diversity and inclusion in our companies and beyond.”
“Diversity of thought, background, and experience on boards of directors is essential in this era of change and disruption,” says Susan Angele, senior advisor with the KPMG Board Leadership Center and WCD Thought Leadership Commission chair. “Commissioners contributing to the report come from all over the world and have deep experience with diversity as a critical contributor to a strong board. Their wisdom, insight and practical suggestions are of deep value to directors seeking to enhance the strategic value of their boards.”
Moving along the pathway of board diversity
The report provides clear recommendations for directors to consider for their own boardrooms. It addresses multiple aspects of board diversity, summed up as “define, build, harvest, and sow” and tackles the questions:
- What are the needs of the company and the expectations of key stakeholders?
- What are the challenges to building a diverse board and what are the tools?
- How does the board maximize the value that different perspectives bring?
- And, how does a diverse board set the tone and move the needle as a strategic enabler to a strong culture and sustainable long-term growth?
Among the recommendations the report suggests are:
- Using company strategy and stakeholder lenses to establish board diversity goals
- Developing pathways for the board to tap into new, diverse networks of qualified board candidates
- Exercising inclusive leadership to harness the full collective intelligence of the board
- Holding management accountable for inclusive leadership.
The 2019 report is the most recent release from the WCD Thought Leadership Commission, whose mission is to advance key boardroom issues beyond theoretical discussion to practical, actionable recommendations. Previous topics have included decision-making in the boardroom and developing a strong leadership strategy within a company, both of which can be found on this webpage.