Leadership

New Partnership Seeks to Diversify Boards

By / May 12, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

Boards are essential to driving a company’s or an organization’s mission and strategic plan. By partnering with affinity groups, the National Association of Corporate Directors is making sure boards are better representing those they serve.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to implement initiatives to diversify their staff, membership, or customer base. And to expand that push to the boardroom, the National Association of Corporate Directors has entered a new partnership with the Latino Corporate Directors Association.

NACD provides board-recruitment services to major corporations, small companies, and nonprofits. The partnership with LCDA will help NACD bring more Latino individuals to its clients’ boardrooms. NACD is working similarly with other affinity groups, including the Executive Leadership Council, Ascend, and Women Corporate Directors, to help recruit black, Pan-Asian, and female business leaders.

“We have made a concerted effort to reach out to these groups and say ‘We want to know you. We want to know who’s in your membership,’” said Steve Walker, general counsel and managing director of the NACD Board Services Group. “And it’s a wonderful tool for us to go out when we have a search for one of our members, and we want to know that diversity is part of the search.”

Though many members of these affinity groups also belong to NACD, Walker explained that working through partnerships can provide extra insight into potential candidates.

“It’s just a great way for us to go to the source and be able to tap into vetted candidates who have intimate knowledge of each other’s skills, backgrounds, and levels of experience,” he said.

Specifically, working with the LCDA will help companies and organizations better represent the Latino population, which makes up 18 percent of the U.S. population.

“Studies demonstrate that companies gain a competitive advantage when decision making comes from diverse perspectives that align the companies’ strategy with their changing consumer bases. With Latino purchasing power at $1.7 trillion and on pace to continue to grow $80 to $90 billion a year, Latino consumers are driving consumption growth in America,” LCDA president and CEO Esther Aguilera said in a press release. “We applaud the efforts of NACD’s Board Recruitment Services to advance the contributions that Latino leaders can make at the highest levels of corporate leadership.”

In addition, NACD will provide special education sessions and networking opportunities during its 2017 Global Board Leaders’ Summit to connect the affinity groups’ members with NACD and its membership.

However, when seeking diversity in the boardroom, NACD is looking beyond the typical considerations, especially as demographics and culture contexts change.

“There is going to be a lot of opportunity and a lot of retirement in the next decade, and we want to make sure we’re placing and diversifying boards not only based upon gender, race, and ethnicity, but unique skills—skills that boards may have not traditionally gone after—so that they can be prepared in the timely, competitive, disruptive, and innovative world that we find ourselves in,” Walker said.

He continued that age also needs to be considered, as the average board director is 62 years old. Introducing millennials or rising leaders to boardrooms or encouraging them to volunteer with a nonprofit can provide them the experience they need to serve in a major company’s boardroom later.

Because diversifying—whether with regards to gender, age, race, ethnicity, skill set, or industry background—by “bringing people into the boardroom who will provide richness, new thought leadership, diverse thought leadership” is key to creating strategic, forward-facing boards, Walker said.

Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. More »

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