Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in Governance and Board Meetings

8 min read
Mar 9, 2023 8:59:27 PM

The board of directors is really important in making sure a company has a good culture and does well. To do this, it's important to have a diverse and inclusive board. When the board meets, they can use everyone's different perspectives to make better decisions for the company. In this blog post, we talk about why having a diverse board is important, and how to make sure everyone feels included and represented during board meetings. We'll also talk about some problems that might come up when trying to make the board more diverse, and how technology can help with diversity initiatives.

Table of Contents

The benefits of an effective Board meeting
       Improved decision making
       Increased Innovation 
       Case study - Fonterra
       Enhance reputation
       Diversity of thinking
       Case study - Westpac Bank
Strategies for Achieving Greater Diversity and Inclusion
Challenges to Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in the Boardroom
Best Practices for Enhancing Boardroom Diversity and Inclusion
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The benefits of an effective Board meeting 

It's important for companies to have a diverse board of directors to stay competitive and successful. When there are people from different backgrounds and experiences on the board, it can lead to better decision-making, more creativity, and a better reputation.

Improved decision making

Having a variety of perspectives represented on the board helps to ensure decisions are well-rounded and comprehensive. A board with a diverse composition can identify and consider a broader range of risks and opportunities, and can better reflect the needs and values of a company's stakeholders. By drawing on the varied experiences of each board member, decisions can be made with a fuller understanding of their implications.

Increased innovation

A diverse group of people with varying ideas can help foster creativity and drive innovation within an organisation. By having members from different backgrounds who have experienced different things come together to brainstorm solutions for problems or new initiatives that could benefit the company, organisations can open themselves up to new possibilities they may not have considered before. Studies have shown that companies with diverse boards tend to perform better than those without. A McKinsey & Company report found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

New Zealand Case Study: Fonterra, a dairy cooperative, has a diverse board that includes members from different ethnicities and backgrounds. The company has been recognized for its commitment to DEI, including their focus on reducing the gender pay gap and their work to increase Maori representation in leadership positions. Fonterra has also been recognized for its innovative initiatives, such as their use of virtual reality technology to train employees.

Enhance reputation

Companies with diverse boards tend to be viewed more positively by their stakeholders due to their commitment towards inclusion and representation of all voices at the table. Having a wide range of individuals contributing also shows potential customers that your business values diversity which can lead them feeling comfortable engaging with you as opposed to those without it where there’s less trust between parties involved . It also sends out a message that your company is serious about its mission statement as it reflects through your actions instead of just words alone which adds credibility amongst peers in addition to creating better relationships with investors overall.

Having diversity within your board composition has become increasingly important in today's world because it provides organisations with many advantages such as improved decision making, increased innovation, and enhanced reputation. All these factors combined make up an integral part in ensuring success for any organisation looking to stay ahead in this ever-changing landscape we live in today.

Key Takeaway: A wider range of voices in the boardroom can lead to more creative thinking, fresh ideas and an improved public image for any company aiming to stay on top. Having various perspectives at play provides invaluable insights that contribute towards success and is essential for businesses wanting to remain competitive.

Diversity of thinking vs diversity, equity and inclusion factors in Board makeup and Board discussions 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) factors in Board makeup and discussions refer to the representation of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including but not limited to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and disability. The goal of EDI is to ensure that all voices are heard and that different perspectives are considered in decision-making processes.

On the other hand, diversity of thinking refers to the presence of individuals with different cognitive styles, experiences, and skills on the Board. This includes individuals with different professional backgrounds, educational experiences, and problem-solving approaches. The goal of diversity of thinking is to bring a broader range of ideas and perspectives to the Board's decision-making process.

While there is some overlap between DEI and diversity of thinking, the two concepts are not the same. DEI focuses on demographic representation, while diversity of thinking is about ensuring that there is a range of perspectives and approaches at the table. However, increasing diversity of thinking may require a focus on EDI factors, as individuals from different backgrounds may bring unique cognitive styles and perspectives to the Board.

Both DEI and diversity of thinking are important considerations in Board makeup and discussions. DEI is essential for ensuring that all voices are heard and that diverse perspectives are represented. Diversity of thinking is important for bringing a broad range of ideas and perspectives to the table.

New Zealand Case Study: Westpac New Zealand
Westpac New Zealand is one of the country's largest banks, and it has been recognized for its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in its governance practices. In 2020, Westpac New Zealand appointed Vittoria Shortt as its CEO, making her the first woman to lead a major New Zealand bank. Shortt has been vocal about the importance of diversity and inclusion in business, and she has set a goal of achieving gender parity in the company's leadership team by 2025.

Westpac New Zealand has also implemented a range of initiatives to support diversity and inclusion, including unconscious bias training for all employees and a diversity and inclusion council to provide guidance and support to the company's leadership team. These efforts have helped Westpac New Zealand to build a more diverse and inclusive culture, which has contributed to improved business outcomes and better relationships with customers.

Strategies for Achieving Greater Diversity and Inclusion

Recruiting from a broader pool of candidates is essential to achieving greater diversity and inclusion in the boardroom. Companies should strive to source candidates beyond their traditional networks, such as through job boards, social media platforms, and professional organisations that focus on minority representation. Firms can also contemplate providing rewards or more adaptable timetables for potential prospects who may not be able to make a pledge to full-time roles due to familial duties or other engagements.

Companies can provide training and support to board members to ensure that they understand the importance of diversity and are equipped to foster an inclusive culture in board meetings.

By implementing these strategies, organisations can make progress towards greater diversity and inclusion in the boardroom. Yet, before substantial transformation can be accomplished, there remain a number of impediments to attaining this aim that must be surmounted.

Key Takeaway: Companies should make a concerted effort to widen their candidate pool in order to foster diversity and inclusion within the boardroom. This can be accomplished by sourcing beyond their traditional networks, setting measurable goals with timelines for meeting objectives, and offering incentives or flexible scheduling options. In short, put in the extra effort to make sure all voices are accounted for.

Challenges to Achieving Diversity and Inclusion in the Boardroom

Achieving diversity and inclusion in the boardroom can be a difficult task, as there are several challenges that must be addressed

Group of senior executives meeting in a boardroom

One of the most controversial challenges is balancing diversity with qualifications. Boards want to ensure that they have a diverse group of directors that represents different genders, races, and ethnicities. However, some argue that diversity should not come at the expense of qualifications. There is a debate about whether a director's qualifications should be the sole criterion for board selection or whether EDI factors should also be considered.

Another challenge to achieving diversity and inclusion in the boardroom is unconscious bias in recruitment processes. It is essential to identify and address any unconscious biases in board recruitment and selection processes that may prevent qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds from being selected. Some argue that the boards should take proactive steps to address these biases, such as using blind recruitment techniques, while others believe that doing so may undermine the merit-based selection process.

Unconscious prejudices may result in recruitment choices based on elements apart from credentials or knowledge, for instance sex, ethnicity, age, and even outward appearance. It's important for organisations to create systems that promote equitable access to opportunities by eliminating any potential barriers due to personal characteristics or identity groups.

Realising diversity and inclusivity within the boardroom can be a tricky task, yet organisations can take action to foster an environment of more diverseness and acceptance by using proven approaches such as those described in the following section. By embracing these strategies, boards can ensure they are better positioned to make decisions with greater insight into their stakeholders' perspectives.

Best Practices for Enhancing Boardroom Diversity and Inclusion

Organisations should consider implementing structured interview processes that focus on skills rather than personal characteristics as part of their selection criteria. Finally, organisations should make sure they have clear guidelines in place regarding how long existing members will serve on the board before being replaced by new members who bring different perspectives into the mix.

Fostering an environment of inclusivity and transparency within the boardroom is essential for advancing diversity among its membership. Organisations should make an effort to establish environments where all opinions can be voiced without apprehension of criticism or punishment from other group members. Furthermore, organisations must ensure there are no double standards when it comes to evaluating ideas based on race or gender; everyone’s opinion should be given equal weight regardless of background or identity markers. This kind of openness allows for productive conversations about difficult topics such as privilege gaps between certain populations which may otherwise go unaddressed if left unchecked.

Australian Case Study: QBE Insurance Group
QBE Insurance Group is one of Australia's largest insurers, and in recent years, the company has made a concerted effort to diversify its board composition. In 2020, QBE appointed Michael Wilkins as the Chair of the Board. Wilkins is known for his advocacy of gender equality and diversity, and he has taken a proactive approach to ensuring that QBE's board is representative of the communities it serves. Under Wilkins leadership, QBE has set a target of achieving gender parity on its board by 2025 and is at 40% in 2022. The company has also implemented a diversity and inclusion training program for all employees, including board members.

Finally, utilizing technology such as video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype helps facilitate collaboration amongst diverse members who may not always be able share physical space due geographical distance constraints . For example , these tools enable remote participants join meetings virtually while still allowing them participate fully in discussions even if they cannot attend physically . In addition , cloud-based storage solutions like Google Drive allow teams quickly access documents needed during meetings without having worry about potential compatibility issues caused by using different operating systems . These types technologies help bridge gaps created by distance making communication easier more efficient across multiple locations.

By following the strategies outlined in this article, organisations can ensure their boardrooms are more diverse and inclusive, which will be further supported by leveraging governance software. Leveraging governance software is an important next step to support these initiatives and help companies meet their goals for diversity and inclusion.


Governance and board meetings are a key part of any successful organisation. By embracing diversity and inclusion initiatives in the boardroom, companies can foster an environment that is more productive, innovative and collaborative.

Leveraging appropriate governance software solutions like BoardPro can help to support these efforts by providing better insights into existing processes as well as automating certain tasks associated with achieving greater diversity and inclusion within the boardroom. Ultimately, creating a diverse team will provide many long-term benefits for organisations who take steps to make it happen.

Take control of your boardroom with BoardPro. Our advanced governance and board meeting solutions make it easy to streamline communication, increase collaboration, and improve decision-making processes for effective outcomes.

Schedule a demo with our team today and begin to experience a whole new way of meeting.

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