Boards require a wide spectrum of expertise to meet the challenges and complexity faced by businesses and organizations. Diverse board members provide the depth of understanding, the diversity of perspectives, and the wealth of experience needed for productive discussions leading to well-rounded decision.
Many boards are struggling to move from «nice-to-have» to a necessity. The discussion about diversity in boardrooms is often focused on social and ethnicity as well as gender. However it is crucial to broaden the discussion to include different professional backgrounds and capabilities.
A diverse board requires commitment and a change in approach. Some trustees are not comfortable with changing their traditional procedures, such as the tendency of board nominating committees to search in the same direction for new members. Boards can increase diversity by broadening their search areas and incorporating diverse communities. They can also find candidates with expertise in specific areas that the company is in the greatest need of (for example, an organization focusing on marketing may be seeking applicants with expertise in geopolitics, while multinational companies may require directors with expertise in geopolitics) and making connections before the need arises with historically underrepresented candidates.
Board members who have an more inclusive and diverse board culture state that having the right mix of both social and professional diversity can create an environment on the board where all ideas are considered. They argue that a diverse board is better prepared to deal with the complexities facing their company as well as those of its stakeholders and customers.