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Reflections on the Australian Governance Summit 2020: DIVERSITY

I’ve just spent the last 2 days at the Australian Institute of Company Director (AICD) Australian Governance Summit in Sydney. It’s an opportunity to catch up with fellow Non-Executive Directors, network with other NEDs and most importantly to keep abreast of what’s happening today and tomorrow in the world of directorship.

I always come away with copious notes (I’m a ‘note taker’) and a head full of ideas and experiences to share and follow up with colleagues. This year there were a number of key themes that pervaded many of the presentations and panel discussions: trust, purpose, culture and values, diversity, risk, ethics, customer, technology and the Corona Virus.

There is too much to write about in one post, but I thought I’d share some reflections on the theme of DIVERSITY. This has been front of mind for me as we have recently recruited a new Non-Executive Director to the board that I chair. While the content of presentations and discussions was not necessarily new for me it was a good reminder about the value and benefits of diversity in the boardroom in its many forms.

There are many definitions of ‘diversity’, but in simple terms, a diverse board is one that is representative of society at large or at least the stakeholder base of the organisation. This ensures that you have a broad spectrum of views around the table that should ultimately result in better problem-solving, decision-making and better performing organisations. A token approach to board diversity is nothing but ‘cosmetic diversity’ which does little to achieve the desired outcomes that result from a truly diverse board.

When you have a diverse board and a capable chair, who ensures that all of the voices around the table are heard, both board and management benefit from the broad experiences, perspectives and wisdom of each member of the board.

A more in-depth discussion about ‘diversity’ can be found in ‘Difference Makers’ by @nickyhowe and @aliciacurtis.

How diverse is your board and how do you ensure that it continues to remain representative of your stakeholders?

AGS2020 stage