The last few weeks have seen a renewed blaze against racial discrimination around the world, including in the workplace. While the UK workforce is substantially more diverse than it was a generation ago, the profiles of company boards, particularly in unlisted firms, too often bear very little resemblance to their employees or customers.
Most companies need to try much harder to appoint the best talents, for example, by asking themselves why the qualified accountant or lawyer from an ethnic minority who applied for the non-executive vacancy did not get the job?
Perhaps part of the answer is that board appointments are usually made on the basis of whether a candidate is a good ‘fit’ with the existing membership. Based on the homogeneity of many boards, it seems that many of those making appointments (either consciously or subconsciously) conflate ‘fit’ with ‘someone like us’.
Calling on more inclusive leadership
For this reason, NEDonBoard is calling on chairs and nomination committees to increase their commitment to inclusive leadership. This is not only a matter of equal opportunity for candidates. McKinsey’s 2015 Diversity Matters study found a “statistically significant relationship between a more diverse leadership team and better financial performance”.
Written by Michael Bartholomeusz, portfolio NED and chair and NEDonBoard member.
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