Boardroom Bound

Building board diversity

As corporate boards show some progress in welcoming women and people of color in the latest wave of new members, diversity trends pave the way for more tech leaders in the boardroom.

Bringing greater diversity to the boardroom is a trending topic in governance circles everywhere these days.

Fueled by rising awareness of racial and gender inequalities, activist investors and a dozen states enacting new laws requiring boards to diversify, there is also a profound business shift underway. Boards are expanding their narrow focus on shareholder value alone to consider the broader concerns of all stakeholders, the customers, employees and partners in the company’s orbit.

Increasingly, investors are looking at companies through an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) lens, too.

“Board composition needs to reflect the demographics of customers and the real world,” says Christine Spadafor, an experienced board director, BBC business commentator and CEO of SpadaforClay Group. “I think broadly about board diversity — not only diversity of gender and ethnicity, but also of thought, age, skills and expertise beyond the usual 'finance' requirement.”

Reflecting a breadth of expertise in multiple business functions and life experiences is something every board needs today, agrees Cathie Kozik, a CIO Hall of Fame member who currently serves on two nonprofit boards. “One of the greatest challenges for boards is finding people who have more than one thing to offer.”

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