From embracing decision-making transparency to fostering an inclusive board meeting culture, we share these tips to enhance board diversity.
To help boards create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable environment in their meetings, we gathered insights from 12 professionals across various industries. From embracing transparency in decision-making to fostering an inclusive board meeting culture, these experts share their top strategies for promoting diversity and inclusion in board meetings.
- Embrace Transparency in Decision-Making
- Examine and Revise IDE Policies
- Establish a Diversity Task Force
- Set Objectives and Adopt Inclusive Procedures
- Create and Adopt a Formal DEI Policy
- Implement a Systematic IDE Approach
- Define and Track DEI Goals
- Create Affinity Groups for Support
- Implement Board Diversity Policy
- Conduct Implicit Bias Training
- Hire Diversely, Promote on Merit
- Foster Inclusive Board Meeting Culture
1. Embrace Transparency in Decision-Making
In my experience, seeking transparency is one of the most effective ways for boards to introduce governance processes that create greater inclusion, diversity, and equity in board meetings. This means being open and honest about decision-making processes, and actively seeking out and valuing diverse perspectives and opinions.
Additionally, being transparent about the board’s diversity goals and progress can help to create a more inclusive and diverse culture within the organization. In my opinion, transparency is key to building trust and fostering a sense of belonging among all members of the board.
Antreas Koutis, administrative manager, Financer
2. Examine and Revise IDE Policies
Boards should examine their policies and practices to ensure that they support IDE in all elements of the organization, including board meetings, to increase IDE board meetings.
This can include revising board member recruiting, training, and assessment policies. I believe the board can identify opportunities for improvement and build a more inclusive and fair approach to board governance by analyzing IDE rules and practices.
Jeff Romero, founder, Octiv Digital
3. Establish a Diversity Task Force
By establishing a diversity and inclusion task force, boards can incorporate governance procedures that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This task force would be in charge of creating and putting into practice plans to broaden the diversity of the board and ensure that each member feels respected and involved.
Additionally, the task force could outline areas for improvement and regularly update the board on how well diversity objectives are being met. Boards may foster a more inclusive and inviting atmosphere for all members by assembling a committed team of people with a variety of ideas and experiences.
Michael Lees, chief marketing officer, EZLease
4. Set Objectives and Adopt Inclusive Procedures
To promote diversity and inclusion in the board, it is recommended to establish clear objectives and benchmarks and to periodically assess the advancement made toward achieving them. Boards may enhance their operations by adopting inclusive decision-making procedures, incorporating a variety of viewpoints in board deliberations, and periodically evaluating and revising board policies and protocols to foster equity and inclusion.
Proactively searching for and hiring diverse candidates for board positions is a crucial step. To enhance recruitment, it is imperative to explore non-traditional networks and channels. Collaborating with external organizations and specialists can aid in identifying and engaging with competent candidates from underrepresented communities.
Rene Delgado, founder and CEO, The Indoor Golf Shop
5. Create and Adopt a Formal DEI Policy
One best practice that proves efficient and impactful is creating and adopting a formal policy that outlines these DEI goals. After all, besides showcasing the seriousness behind an idea, the other good thing about a formal policy is that it remains undisputed at all levels of the organization.
Every stakeholder knows that a lot of research, thought, and foresight has gone into the creation and adoption of a policy. This makes it easier to implement the policy across an organization. The only step that can help draw more efficiency from a policy is reiterating it a few times until it becomes a habit.
Riley Beam, managing attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
6. Implement a Systematic IDE Approach
One way for boards to introduce governance processes that promote these values is through an intentional and systematic approach.
First, boards can start by assessing their current state of diversity and inclusion, and identifying areas that need improvement. Then, boards can create an action plan that outlines specific targets and metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
To ensure that the plan is implemented effectively, boards can also appoint a diversity officer or committee responsible for implementing and monitoring the plan. This officer or committee can also provide training to board members on how to recognize and address biases in decision-making processes.
Finally, boards can establish clear policies and procedures for diverse recruitment and inclusion. This could involve implementing inclusive practices in the recruitment and nomination processes, setting specific diversity targets and metrics, and conducting unconscious bias training for board members.
Luciano Colos, founder and CEO, PitchGrade
7. Define and Track DEI Goals
In my perspective, establishing defined diversity and inclusion goals and indicators is a critical approach for boards to incorporate governance systems or practices that promote more inclusion, diversity, and equity in board meetings.
Setting targets for increasing the presence of underrepresented groups on the board, adopting rules and practices that encourage fair decision-making processes, and tracking and reporting on progress toward these goals are all examples of this.
Boards may send a loud signal to stakeholders that they are dedicated to developing a more inclusive and equitable organization by expressly prioritizing diversity and inclusion in their governance processes.
Ethan Bull, owner, ProAssisting
8. Create Affinity Groups for Support
9. Implement Board Diversity Policy
Boards can put in place a board diversity policy to provide governance procedures that increase inclusion, diversity, and equity in board meetings. This policy describes the board’s dedication to diversity and inclusion, its goals for underrepresented groups, and its methods for locating and hiring applicants from various backgrounds.
A committee dedicated to diversity and inclusion can monitor implementation and accountability. A board diversity policy encourages organizations and society at large to move toward a more equal future.
Inga Broerman, VP of marketing, BluLogix
10. Conduct Implicit Bias Training
Implicit bias training can help board members recognize and address their own biases and assumptions, which can help to create a more inclusive and equitable board culture.
This type of training should cover topics such as recognizing and addressing microaggressions, understanding power dynamics, and how to create a safe and respectful space for all members to contribute. Training can be provided by external facilitators or by members of the board with expertise in diversity and inclusion.
Daniel Chabert, CEO and founder, PurpleFire
11. Hire Diversely, Promote on Merit
Achieving DEI is not as complicated as it may seem. Left to natural selection, boards become more diverse and thus more representative of the stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and communities.
Any form of discrimination, such as promotion based on gender, age, race, or religion, distorts this natural selection process, and we end up with organizations that do not represent the people it is meant to serve.
Organizations only need to hire diversely and let merit decide the level of diversity. Of course, hiring diversely and promoting on merit requires that the organization be open to new perspectives and ready to reexamine its hiring process.
Karl Robinson, CEO, Logicata
12. Foster Inclusive Board Meeting Culture
Having a diverse board of directors is proven to lead to profitability and innovation, but it’s important that everyone in the room feels heard and, in turn, can contribute. Ensuring the board meeting has an inclusive, open, and respectful culture is key.
Boards can create a set of expectations regarding how members should conduct themselves during meetings, send post-meeting surveys to obtain regular feedback and gauge culture, and create opportunities to connect outside of the boardroom.
Maria Doughty, president and CEO, The Chicago Network
About The Author
- Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.
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