The Benefits of Developing a Diverse Board

gigcmo
13/07/2021

Diversity is a buzzword from marketing to business development. However, businesses that embrace diverse and inclusive opinions at the Board level and in a variety of ways see tangible benefits to culture, innovation, and the bottom line.

What do we mean by diversity at the Board level?

While ethnicity is one factor in diversity, it is not the only factor. Diversity in terms of age, experience, even geographical location in our Zoom connected world can all bring something truly special to a business, fuelling its ability to think differently and stay ahead of the game. That magic 'thing' is a different perspective. Steve Jobs, well known for thinking differently, put his principles into advertising with Apple's 1997 'Think Different' campaign that began:

"Here's to the crazy ones — the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently — they're not fond of rules."

Why CEOs should embrace different perspectives 

The power of a different perspective isn't just the stuff that a marketing expert turned to advertising gold, however – although that is perhaps a case in point. Diverse talent and opinion have a significant impact on the performance of companies and their sustainability.

Aside from the ethics of embracing diversity at all levels of a business, we operate in a world where organisations, even those that consider themselves local, have a global presence and a multifaceted consumer base, courtesy of the digital age. Therefore, different perspectives are fundamental for keeping businesses connected with customers, potential customers and remaining cognisant of developments and opportunities within the industry. 

Marketing experts know that younger team members (in their twenties) engage with technology differently from those in their thirties and beyond. Equally, gender, geographical location, social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds all bring different and important voices to the proverbial table when making Board-level decisions that impact consumer experience and business success. 

For example, McKinsey found that ethnically diverse executive teams are 36% more likely to see the top financial performance. Meanwhile, Boston Consulting Group determined that companies with above-average leadership diversity in the workplace generated innovation-related revenue 19 points higher than companies with below-average diversity.

How can CEOs bring diversity to the Board?

It's all well and good, us waxing lyrical about the merits of diversity. However, if you have an established company, how can you foster or improve a culture of different perspectives in a manner that's more meaningful than quota filling or paying lip service to an ethical principle? 

The first area is obviously to reflect on your company culture, hiring practices, your organisation's strategic goals, and what you're trying to achieve. In many respects, this will involve long-term plans for evolution, including implementing training programmes, coaching and mentoring to ensure leadership opportunities of the future (succession planning) are not limited to the obvious few. You may already have a diverse team and wish to harness its power more effectively by developing protocols for younger team members to contribute to Board-level discussions.

Another (or additional) way to diversify strategic input is to seek an outside perspective. We have mentioned before that our team of marketing experts and Fractional CMOs regularly host our CMO Roundtable clinics at Go to Market Globally events. These are unique in the marketing industry because our team brings together a range of talent from different backgrounds, but all have occupied senior leadership roles.  
 
Working collaboratively, rather than competitively, it is unusual for any business to engage with marketing experts and strategic thinkers of that calibre, all in one place and all putting their collective brainpower to the benefit of a single company. Not only are many from different countries around the world, but they have lived or still live in different countries as well. Many have lived and worked in multiple locations and helped businesses to enter new markets.

Diversity is more than a catchphrase 

While diversity may be a popular word to use in business jargon, it about far more than being seen to be being socially responsible. For businesses, this is also about creating organisations that are fit for the modern world. Inward looking firms are finding themselves disconnected from their customers and blindsided by newcomers to the marketplace. 

Diversity of opinion and an outside perspective is essential for staying agile, connected, and relevant. If you can bring that into your business, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and everyone else has seen that your business will be stronger and drive innovation.

If you are interested in gigCMO's Roundtable services to support your business, contact gigCMO for a free initial consultation. 

Watch the Video