An organization’s biggest asset is arguably its board, which provides leadership and ensures responsible execution of the organization’s vision. However, boardrooms across the nation are much the same as the venture capitalist landscape: predominantly white and male. Creating a more balanced board has become a corporate conundrum, hampering diversity initiatives and recruitment efforts.
The National Diversity Council’s 2018 study of business leadership in Texas revealed that white males made up more than two-thirds of C-suite and board members, though the state’s white male population is less than 45 percent. Overall, minority women represent less than two percent of executive and board composition in the state. The picture painted in Texas is a window into a larger, national issue, where the growing diversity of the U.S. population is not reflected in corporate leadership.
Fortunately, there are options for companies working to achieve more diversity in the boardroom. Since low turnover is a contributing factor to board homogeneity, it is critical for companies to be deliberate about bringing on new board members. In a recent TechCrunch article, executives from SurveyMonkey, Upwork, and Ripple suggest that companies make a concerted effort to recruit more board members who do not look like them and can offer out-of-the-box viewpoints, as well as a greater range of expertise. That may mean pursuing more diverse avenues for seeking out and networking with potential new board members. It may also be advantageous to recruit higher junior members; this strategy could bring untapped technological talent to the board.
Developing heightened awareness of and advancing discourse about board diversity are also critical steps in the right direction. A recent Harvard report on U.S. board diversity indicates that 2019 revealed “the biggest jump in the overall gender diversity” and a “record number of ethnic minorities joining boards as new board members.” With statistics like these, there is hope for greater change in 2020.