Corporate CEOs rightly get attention for leading organizations, but behind a successful CEO is often a talented and involved board of directors. Board members are powerful agents of change. And to be successful, they need to understand how diversity, equity and inclusion can help them and their company succeed.
Whether at a business or nonprofit, board members are responsible for high-level oversight, long-term planning, and decision-making that drives performance. The board considers risk management, the market climate, investors’ perspectives, historical trends, future predictions, and many other financial metrics before making decisions. Along with their stated duties, board members are also expected to leverage their networks in order to cultivate valuable partnerships and advocate for the organization when necessary.
Boards can leverage DEI in two primary ways: ensuring board diversity and driving DEI priorities at the organization forward. On the Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox podcast, Laura Sanderson, lead of Russell Reynolds Associates' UK team and co-lead of the firm's Board and CEO Advisory Group in Europe, spoke to host Jackie Ferguson about the importance of board diversity.
“Whatever the task is, diverse teams that are inclusively led will outperform homogeneous teams. And that right there is the answer to why it's so important that we have diverse boards,” Sanderson says. “People are a collection of extraordinary pieces of lived experience, and you want as much richness in the mix as you can possibly get.”