How to Move Beyond Quotas and Box Checking to Move Toward Corporate Board Diversity

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Corporate Board Diversity

Numerous studies have shown that boards with diverse backgrounds have a better financial performance. This has led to a convergence of forces which are pushing companies towards more diverse boards. This includes protests and activism from people of color and women as well as pressure from investors and shareholders, and the perception of companies with diverse boards as "good" for society.

Despite all this momentum it is true that many companies don't have boards that are a lot more diverse. In the year 2000, Nasdaq found that 75 percent of the companies on its exchange would not have satisfied the market's easy diversity requirements. Black, Latinx, Asian, and other minorities aren't represented, despite their significant numbers in the US population.

One solution is quotas, which would require companies to disclose their diversity on the board using an established template and to have at least two directors who self-identify as women or as minorities in underrepresented groups or provide reasons why they don't. However, relying on quotas as the sole method of ensuring diversity can raise legal issues and risks diluting the advantages of having more voices at the table.

It's time to move past box-checking and quotas to take advantage of a more thoughtful and focused approach to governance. This means focusing less on the number of women and minorities who are sitting at the table and more on how those voices can be used to boost the company's performance. This requires a change in culture that includes creating an environment that allows employees to think differently and engage in challenging discussions.

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