Diversity at the board table

Diversity is a critical component of a high-performing board.

Why is diversity important for boards?

It’s important that a community is accurately represented at the board table. A diverse board best reflects the range of people in the community they serve and are inclusive of different ethnicities, cultures, ages, genders, and backgrounds. They welcome women and men, representatives from LGBTI communities, and people with disabilities.

The many benefits of a diverse board

A diverse board makes it possible to have rich conversations which contribute different, crucial perspectives to decision-making.

People from different backgrounds approach similar problems in different ways. With a range of skilled governance leaders from different walks of life, you can build long-term relationships with stakeholders that will benefit your board and organisation.

When boards are diverse, they can:

  • manage a wide range of challenges
  • make better decisions
  • reduce the risk of groupthink
  • adapt to changing environments
  • keep up with market trends
  • maintain a good reputation and brand for their organisation.

Steps to achieving board diversity

Here are some ways to ensure inclusivity and diversity on your board:

  • Revisit your purpose and your vision statements and consider the community you serve.
  • Incorporate te reo language into your founding document (one of New Zealand’s three official languages).
  • Adjust user settings for our disability sector.
  • Is there accurate representation currently? Where are the gaps?
  • Identify and appoint diverse talent through diverse means of recruiting board members. For example, if you are a national board and you require more rural engagement, reach out to rural volunteer organisations.
  • Create an inclusive culture by making sure everyone’s voice and opinion is heard. A good example of how do this can be seen in our Chairing the Board video series.
  • Recognise and address unconscious bias – age, demographic, gender etc.

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