For years, boards have discussed diversity but little action has been taken. Demographic shifts and the continuing focus on global competitiveness point to change on the horizon. While it won’t happen tomorrow, all signs point to increasing diversity within the next few decades — when the current millennials are in their 50s, the boardroom will be much more racially diverse.
I recently addressed two highly engaged groups in Washington, D.C., and the attendees reflected very similar attributes and a common aspiration — a desire to gain their first board seat. My advice for gaining that first board seat was clear. It’s all about who — and what — you know.
The first group I met with was from Ascend, and the second group was from Women in the Boardroom. While the composition and mission of the latter is evident, the former may be new to you. Ascend is an association consisting of nearly 50,000 Pan-Asian leaders who are passionate about ascending the highest ranks of business. I spoke during Ascend’s recent global conference of more than 2,500 people.
NACD believes diversity is a global business imperative. I mentioned during my talks that NACD has been a champion of diversity in the boardroom for more than 37 years, dedicating content, events and actions to the issue. Further, we don’t define boardroom diversity as being simply about color or gender. It’s about diversity of thought, perspectives and experience – from a cognitive perspective. Ideally, the skills, experiences and perspectives of a company’s directors should reflect those required to proactively oversee the company’s strategy.
For more information about NACD’s positon on diversity in the boardroom, please read our Blue Ribbon Commission Report here.