All companies listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange will be required to disclose board-level diversity statistics, including how board members self-identify regarding gender, predefined race and ethnicity categories, and LGBTQ+ status. This requirement, while only for Nasdaq-listed companies, offers a good suggestion for all organizations – especially not-for-profits – seeking to develop and retain diverse boards.
Given the growing awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, many not-for-profit donors expect the organizations they support to have a diverse board of directors.
To better understand your board’s composition and diversity, you can begin by creating a spreadsheet matrix that lists all your board members and their age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc. This will tell you how diverse your board is now and provide an indication of future board members that will make your board more diverse.
As you think about increasing the diversity of your board, it’s important to go beyond mere tokenism and symbolism. In the past, it may have been sufficient to claim that your board is diverse because it included one or two women or people of color. Achieving true board diversity today, however, requires more.
Your organization could realize a number of benefits by increasing board diversity. Each board member will bring their own diverse perspectives to the organization when discussing issues and when making decisions and recommendations. With these experiences and expertise, your organization could be in a stronger position to advance equity, make more well-rounded decisions, and take advantage of new opportunities.
As you consider candidates to join your board, look for people with unique backgrounds and life experiences; they will add diverse views that will enhance the development of your policies and procedures. Consider your community and constituents – what cultural norms and trends could be better represented on your board?