Forced diversity on boards may create the wrong board hires, but don’t use that as a reason to hold back your personal progress.
In September 2018, California became the first state to legally instruct corporate board diversity by stating every public company had to have at least one female director by the end of 2019. This may not stop in California. New Jersey and New York are considering following suit.
This checkbox approach to diversity is disastrous at best and potentially illegal at worst. While this article is about board composition, the lessons can be applied to any numerical diversity target well intentioned companies set.
I don’t agree with the premise of a numerical goal, because where will it stop? First a quota for women, then what other quotas will be introduced? The list could be endless, and the activity is focused on a checklist rather than improving company performance. Despite all of this, there are some advantages of this legislation,
The optimists view:
You might be reading this thinking, I am not ready, or worse, I am too old. I had a remarkably successful technology executive say to me recently “I have left it too late, Val, to get on a board!” I explained that nothing could be further from the truth and that I knew many boards would be delighted to have her expertise. The issue was not one of age, but of how magnetic her brilliance was.
It is never too early, and it is never too late to consider how you can explore serving on a board.
How you can take advantage:
While I question if this diversity legislation is really progress, I do wonder how the newly appointed solo female board members in California feel right now, as they take a seat at their next board meeting knowing that it was in some proportion due to forced legislation pressure and a pending fine.
But for now, let’s all just take advantage of the heightened awareness, renewed energy, and willingness to consider conversations with leaders who may not look, think, or act like your stereotypical board member.
Global Innovation and Leadership Expert