The lack of diversity within corporate boardrooms remains a significant challenge in today’s business landscape. While progress has been made in recent years, the representation of individuals from diverse backgrounds, particularly in terms of race, ethnicity, and visible disabilities, remains disproportionately low. When you do not see colour, you lose sight of opportunities and risks.
The phrase “colour-blindness,” is often used to describe a perspective that ignores race or ethnicity. “It don’t matter if you’re Black or White” is a well-intentioned motto but ultimately counterproductive. Ignoring colour perpetuates systemic biases and denies individuals the opportunity to bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the table. By embracing colour, we acknowledge the value of diverse backgrounds and challenge the notion that everyone’s experiences are the same.
Diversity fosters creativity and innovation
Primarily, diversity fosters creativity and innovation. Diverse boards make better decisions, solve complex problems more effectively, and drive business growth, as well as provide a greater understanding of the needs and perspectives of a diverse customer base. By valuing colour and embracing diversity, boardrooms can tap into a broad range of talents, experiences, and perspectives that would otherwise be overlooked.
Acknowledge and address underrepresentation
Acknowledging and addressing the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities is a crucial step towards dismantling systemic barriers and creating equal opportunities for all. If we remain in business just to make profit and not make our communities better places, the community will soon see through us. By ensuring that boards reflect the diverse societies they serve, businesses send a powerful message that they value inclusivity, fairness, and social progress.
Diversity means unique skills, talents, and insights
While discussions on diversity often focus on racial and ethnic disparities (that is, if they have managed to move on from gender), the representation of individuals with visible disabilities in boardrooms is also critical. People with disabilities possess unique skills, talents, and insights that can contribute to corporate success. By actively including individuals with disabilities, companies can tap into an often-untapped pool of talent and challenge societal preconceptions.
Lead by example
There is no easy and quick solution. Yes, you can hire diversity but if diversity is not rife amongst the staff and the senior up-and-coming leaders, you may lose your culture. Company leaders must lead by example and make diversity and inclusion a top priority. By setting clear goals and holding themselves accountable, they can drive meaningful change throughout the organisation. It is a goal that the company does not have to meet today or tomorrow, but there must be a realistic timeline for getting there.
If candidates applying for jobs are not diverse, expanding the candidate pool to include a broader range of backgrounds is crucial. Companies can partner with organisations that focus on developing diverse workforces, establish mentorship programmes and offer scholarships to underrepresented individuals.
Create an inclusive boardroom
Creating an inclusive boardroom culture is essential to retain and support diverse talent. Providing diversity training to board members and executives can help raise awareness about unconscious biases and equip them with the tools to make more inclusive decisions. So often we look at the staff when it comes to training. They often get it. We should start at home.
In addition, companies should publicly disclose their diversity statistics, including board representation, to foster accountability and transparency. Regular reporting allows stakeholders to assess progress and hold organisations accountable for their diversity efforts.
This is not tokenism. If all the boardroom comes from similar universities, it will not matter whether we have a significant minority representation on the board. We need different backgrounds and the board needs to have different life experiences to be able to take the modern opportunities and mitigate the risks of our world.