Diversity

At Board Apprentice we define diversity as

“the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include, individual characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviours.”

Why Diversity?

Most people know intuitively that diversity matters. It’s also increasingly clear from a large body of research, that it makes sense in purely business terms. There is a growing body of research which finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. Furthermore, diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.

Research indicates that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful. More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. This in turn suggests that other kinds of diversity—for example, in age, sexual orientation, and experience (such as a global mind-set and cultural fluency)—are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent.

How we see Diversity

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, neurodiversity and parental status. As mentioned above, there is a growing body of evidence that boards composed entirely of a homogeneous group of people from the company’s home country are at a disadvantage in a world 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.

My Services

  • Disability Diversity
    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.
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  • Ethnic Diversity
    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.
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  • Experience / Background Diversity
    Board composition varies markedly from country to country but there is very often an identifiable ‘type’ of person who becomes a board member in that country. 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.
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  • Gender Diversity
    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
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  • Generational Diversity
    Generational theory explains that people’s values and worldview 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.
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  • Nationality Diversity
    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.
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  • LGBT
    LGBT representation on boards is a unique challenge as it is an “invisible” dimension compared to other aspects of diversity. As a result, it can 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 there is a global need to tackle the challenge of increasing LGBT representation on boards. 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. There is still a lot of work to be done until everyone feels safe to bring their whole selves to their workplace. 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.
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  • Technology
    This is an ever-increasing diversity factor on boards. All boards of any company or organization need to have insight into the world of technology. Technology is changing the world rapidly and companies who are not on the forefront of those changes will be doomed. We have already seen a number of high profile fatalities such as Blockbuster, who in 2007 ignored the potential for renting out videos online. They filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and have become a case study as an example of a company that failed to adapt and failed to appreciate the impact of disrupters like Netflix, even passing up the chance to buy them very cheaply. A more diverse board might have taken a different course.
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  • Neurodiversity
    Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome. Science suggests conditions like autism have a stable prevalence in human society as far back as we can measure. We are realizing that autism, ADHD, and other conditions emerge through a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental interaction; they are not the result of disease or injury. Indeed, many individuals who embrace the concept of neurodiversity believe that people with differences do not need to be cured; they need help and accommodation instead. They look at the pool of diverse humanity and see – in the middle – the range of different thinking that’s made humanity’s progress in science and the creative arts possible. When 99 out of a 100 neurologically identical people fail to solve a problem it’s often the 1% individual, who’s different, who holds the key. We believe that boards can benefit hugely from the input of neurodiverse individuals in their decision-making processes. The people who change the world are rarely the ones just following the set rules but more often the ones who think out of the box and create a new, innovative solution.
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Ambassador of Diversity

"Boards need to have different eyes to see with to be able to see all opportunities and risks. It is by being different that we add value - a fully diverse board will have richer, deeper discussions. We cannot afford to have blind spots”

Charlotte Valeur
Founder and Chair of Board Apprentice Global
 Charlotte Valeur
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Ambassador of Diversity

“We need more diverse talent on boards. Everyone knows it, but until now, finding a way to achieve the goal has been an issue. Board Apprentice has given us a practical, effective and painless way to help and we’ve taken it, welcoming an apprentice to our board for a year”

Simon Miller
Chairman of Dunedin
 Simon Miller
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Ambassador of Diversity

“It’s important to give people the opportunity to learn”

Kate Bolsover
Chair of Tomorrow’s People
 Kate Bolsover
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