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Board effectiveness: Unleashing valuable new perspectives in the boardroom

From the Boston Business Journal series

Many business leaders and board members find themselves asking, “What are we missing?”​

Board effectiveness: Unleashing valuable new perspectives in the boardroom

An employer’s perspective, as shared by William K. Bacic, New England managing partner, Deloitte LLP

In many of today’s boardrooms, there often remains a gap between talking about diversity and its many benefits, and actually embedding diversity into the boardroom. As shareholder activism increases, and the number of boardroom challenges rises, many business leaders and board members find themselves asking, “What are we missing?” In this week’s blog post, I will address how diversifying the boardroom can be a step in the right direction in terms of finding that missing piece, and outline why now is the time to narrow the gap.

The, “What are we missing?” question is one many executives probably hear most frequently, regardless of their organization’s industry, region, or revenue. A diverse board may help address the question by bringing in new opinions, perspectives, and viewpoints. Embedding diversity into the boardroom can provide a healthy way for board members to view issues through a new lens.

Leaders may find it useful to start by highlighting diversity in the context of people and technology. Looking at board diversity through these two lenses can provide an opportunity for leaders to examine board composition broadly and encompass a variety of perspectives.

When thinking about making changes to board composition, it is important to consider options outside of the C-suite. Broadening the definition of board-ready talent not only creates a wider pool of candidates, it can also allow boards to hear, firsthand, experiences that connect to the trends shaping business. Seeking out potential board members with varied skillsets can strengthen the board’s ability to advise management.

Likewise, leaders should consider generational diversity as well. As the consumer, talent, and shareholder landscape shifts, Generation X and Millennial board members can bring insight, firsthand, into what these generations expect.

While the experience of more seasoned directors should by no means be underestimated, younger directors are part of a generation redefining how the world uses technology, views consumer experiences, and engages in business. This may provide the board with a different view on topics on the board’s agenda, and reshape the discussion within the boardroom.

Finally, technology is another element to consider when addressing board composition. From social media to boardroom dashboards to data analytics, technology is constantly changing and adapting. Many boards view technology as a tool to assist in their oversight role and harness the strength of the possibilities it can provide, while maintaining traditional practices which have proven successful in the current business environment.

Simply creating a diverse board is not the end game; diversity in the boardroom should bring forward new perspectives into conversations which can drive not only innovation, but value, for the business.

To learn more about dynamic boardrooms and their impact, I recommend you read this Financier Worldwide article by my colleague Deb DeHaas.

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