There’s Only Positives When Diversifying Your Board - Maryann Bruce

I was a guest at the Ellig Group and SHRM’s video series “Bold Leaders, Actionable Solutions” together with Terry Rasmussen. We discussed the actionable solutions in this webinar: “Broaden the Network” & “Sponsor/Develop Diverse Executive Talent.”

One of the questions Janice Ellig asked me was about the business outcomes and impact of diversifying a board.

Studies have found that diverse board members are more likely to offer their perspectives and their perspectives are more likely to be thoughtfully considered by other board members when there is a meaningful number of diverse individuals like them on the board. Do not underestimate the power of three — one woman is a token, two is a presence, but three is a voice.

There is often more than one right answer to a problem, so having multiple perspectives ensures more high-caliber strategic solutions. Additionally, adding diverse directors to a board can expand its knowledge base, improve culture, elevate decision-making, and help the board mentor and monitor management more effectively.

No question diversifying a board produces positive outcomes for the board and those impacted by the board. These include increased productivity, long-term sustainability, and an improved brand and reputation. Not to mention the positive social and cultural impact that occurs when customers and employees see people “like me” represented on the board.

Despite the recognition that diverse boards produce numerous benefits, changing the ‘norm’ and shifting paradigms can be challenging. In other words, diversifying a board is not easy. Strategizing a plan of inclusion is not often something we were taught in school or learned via past work experiences. It also doesn’t just happen unless there is a shared vision and commitment to having a more diverse board. It requires discipline, dedication, a significant time commitment, and intentionality, but the rewards are exponential and well worth the effort. Ultimately, the board members must be authentically devoted to sparking change.

I have personally championed and advanced diversity in the boardroom by serving on and recommending exceptionally talented diverse candidates to the company’s nominating and governance committee. I’m delighted to say that the candidates I nominated were asked to serve on that particular board in two separate instances.

It’s time to give opportunities to those who may not have previously been considered but likely deserved the opportunity all along.

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About Maryann: Experienced Corporate Director Maryann Bruce is passionate about creating more diverse and inclusive boards. She vehemently believes that having a diverse and inclusive board helps reduce risk, challenges group think, drives profits, and sets an excellent example for the rest of the company.

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