At Board Apprentice we define diversity as
“the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include, for example, individual characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviours.”
We break down diversity further into two categories – visible diversity traits and invisible diversity traits. In discussions around diversity, visible traits are often emphasized and include race, gender, physical abilities and age. Invisible diversity traits include, amongst other things, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, education and parental status. There is a growing body of evidence that boards composed entirely of men from the company’s home country are at a disadvantage in a world of two genders and of global markets and supply chains. The issue for boards is to incorporate diverse perspectives while maintaining the cohesion and trust that are essential for the board to function properly. We increase diversity by sourcing suitable candidates from diversifying areas to become board apprentices. The Boards who are offering apprenticeships have shown their willingness to help further diversification.
Business Week: ‘As consumers, they are all buying what your business sells—or ignoring it—depending on whether your company is as diverse as they are’…and that includes the disabled. 11 million in the UK alone, 16% of the working age population and 45% of adults over standard pension age at the last count. read more
Ethnicity / Race
Ethnic and Racial minorities are growing in most countries and have, in many regions, reached such numbers that it is becoming necessary and right to have them represented at all levels of the societies in which they live. Too often, their insights and perspectives are not being captured. Ethnic and Racial minorities influence and partake in all areas but still have only a small number represented in board rooms.
Experience / background
The board compositions in different Countries varies considerably. Individual countries tend to follow a set pattern for the type of person who becomes a board member. Some countries, for example, have a large percentage of lawyers on boards whilst other countries have hardly any. Other countries have many academics ( the US is a prime example) and others very few. Board Apprentice will take into account the makeup of the boards in that country and add apprentices in areas where representation is lacking.
Not just the right thing, but the bright thing.The Conference Board of Canada
Women account for more than 50% of the population, almost the same percentage of the workforce, outperform men educationally and are responsible for the majority of household purchases. The business case for women on boards is now well-proven. Women bring valuable insights, talents, experience and perspectives to boards, improving business performance, governance, innovation and helping to strengthen the executive pipeline.read more
Generational theory explains that people’s values and world view are shaped by the era in which they are born. Attitudes and behaviours can be very different indeed from one generation to the next, creating challenges and opportunities for businesses. Access to the insights of different generations through generational diversity on boards is a pragmatic way to enhance corporate performance, reduce risk, capture talent and keep businesses sharp and fresh. read more
We believe the trend towards more international boards is being driven by globalisation. More and more companies seek non-executive directors who can provide insights into their overseas operations. It is a lot easier to understand a market if you have local knowledge. Understanding the markets your company is involved with and the cultures of the countries it trades with can vastly increase the effectiveness of risk oversight and management.
LGBT representation on boards is a unique challenge as it is an “invisible” dimension compared to other aspects of diversity. It can thus easily be overlooked. We aim for boards to be able to see with all eyes and utilise all varieties of perspectives at the table. We believe we need to tackle the challenge of also getting LGBT representation on boards globally. LGBT equality is not only a civil rights issue, it is also a business issue. To be successful businesses need to retain and promote from the broadest pool of talent available. Until everyone feels safe to bring their whole selves to their workplace, there is still a lot of work to be done. Leaders need to show the way by being inclusive of all diversity themselves.
The leadership and advocacy of our host boards are an example for others to follow as we work together to create a more open and tolerant society that values all people equally.