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Discover the Secret to Board Diversity

Today’s complex, fast-moving global business environment requires a high-performance board to maximize the success of its enterprise. How do you build the best board for your organization?

Every board should agree on a clear statement of desired personal attributes for all board members to guide the governance committee as they search for director candidates. Achieving the best mix of director skills and experience depends on many variables; size and stage of company, industry, markets served and technology utilized to name the most recognized. 

What skills and attributes are required? What mix of expertise will give you the best corporate governance? What common director attributes are desired and how do you fine-tune your search to achieve a high-performing board?

For optimal board composition, boards should ask, “Who will bring the right perspective and be able to meaningfully contribute to the future strategy of the organization?” Adam Epstein, a nationally recognized small-cap expert, says Thought Diversity in the Boardroom is just good business.

He has 4 suggestions from watching high-performing boards conduct director searches:

  1. Make sure your board matrix is thorough and complete prior to retaining a search firm. You know best what your board is missing.
  2. The nominating and governance committee should solicit input from key stakeholders regarding types of skill sets that would provide value to the board.
  3. Don’t fill the board matrix with candidate titles, rather fill it with skills and experience your board seeks.
  4. Consider the board composition of competitors that are outperforming your company.

To find those qualified candidates who will make a great board member, boards may want to look outside the conventional C-level box. If thought diversity is important, a board should consider executives at the VP level who still bring the expertise, right perspective, and personality to meaningfully contribute to the future strategy of the enterprise.

In addition to using a board matrix to assess the skills and experience desired in potential directors, a board should also identify the personality traits and personal communication styles that would be most effective on the board. A diverse boardroom of respectful, collegial, yet challenging executives will stir up thoughtful discussions, leading to better decisions for the organization.

Boards do not have to sacrifice critical skills or expertise to increase diversity, but they may have to broaden their approach to director recruitment and their perceptions about the ideal director.

For assistance with your board recruitment strategy, contact Maureen Hurd (262) 347-0575.