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The missing perspective in the boardroom: Women

A Boston Business Journal series

Recognizing the importance of boardroom diversity is essential for organizations to thrive in the current business environment​.

The missing perspective in the boardroom: Women

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

As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, recognizing the importance of boardroom diversity is essential for organizations to thrive in the current business environment. This week, we’ll look into another area of diversity in the boardroom—gender diversity.

Gender diverse boards are a business imperative. In fact, studies have found that companies with women on their boards often outperform those with less gender diversity, in terms of share price and performance, as well as certain financial metrics. Yet, despite the benefits, there is still work to be done to achieve a gender balance.

Research shows that, globally, less than one in five women hold board seats.

Corporate boards looking to expand their board diversity might need to open their aperture to the benefits, forward-looking views, and skillsets that gender diversity could bring to boardroom discussions. Specifically, boards should consider looking at skills, rather than focusing exclusively on titles.

Traditional thinking on board composition was that a director needed to have been a sitting CEO or other highly ranked C-suite executive. Boards that limit themselves to these traditional assumptions risk not having board members with diverse experiences and views on emerging critical issues. These boards could miss having a pulse on trends that might impact the organization’s business model and strategy. Finally, the voice, thinking, and perspectives of those influencing the organization’s future direction and shareholder values may be missing.

Likewise, it is important for those who aspire to serve as board members—women, as well as other candidates—to strategically consider making known their interest in serving as a director. It is equally important for potential candidates to understand the cultural dynamics of a board to assess if a new director will have a voice. Furthermore, it is critical for aspirational board members to fully comprehend the current situation of the company and any unique risks that the company or associated industry faces. The candidate should feel confident that their experiences and skills would allow them to be a highly effective board member of that organization.

As I have referenced in past blog posts, organizations should encourage participation from all members of the workforce. While many organizations are advocating for enhanced board composition overall, boards should consider focusing on achieving gender balance and helping to realize its full potential. To learn more about gender diversity in the boardroom, check out Deb DeHaas’ perspective in the Deloitte Risk & Compliance Journal.

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