Every board is different. I have sat on early stage, a bit later stage, education and non-profit boards. All with different casts of characters that are meant to be responsible and represent the companies interests. Thinking about what your board should look like is an important reflection on what each company should be.
Darren Walker wrote a great op-ed in the NYTimes this past weekend about how museums need to step into the future and reflect equality. He has obviously been watching the eventual step down and resignation of Warren Kanders from the Whitney Board this past week. It has been fast and furious with one museum after the other walking away from the Sackler Family money and artists using their own voices to want boards, shows and programs that reflect racial and gender diversity. The time is up for anything else. This is a reflection of something that is happening at a much larger scale across everything from companies to politics.
His piece made me think about sitting on the school board of LREI where our kids went to elementary thru high school. I also sat on the executive committee. The board reflected the school. There were students, teachers, parents and alumni of different faces, religions, sexual preferences and economic backgrounds that sat on the board. Certainly liberal but we all brought something unique to the conversation. Many times we agreed to disagree as boards do and not everyone could give or even get but they worked and represented a voice which made the board a real active board. It also gave everyone at the table insight into others thought processes because nobody looked alike or came from the same place but we all ended up there. That board is what made the school tick.
When boards are all male or all female or all white or all black there isn’t any diversity. Boards should have different voices from different experiences because that is how you get the best out of everyone. It is time to see more public companies and large non-profit organizations represent the people that work there and the people they cater to.