Best Practices for Increasing Gender Diversity on Boards

Sep 15, 2020 | BLOG

  • Formalising selection processes by hiring an external search firm helps to broaden the search for candidates beyond the board’s existing personal and professional networks. This also helps to ensure that selection is based on merit and meets the board’s needs.
  • Broadening the selection criteria beyond years of executive experience or industry expertise. Seek out qualified women leaders even if they lack board experience, focusing instead on the ability to move from a tactical to a strategic mindset. In addition, candidates from outside traditional sectors can bring different and valuable perspectives.
  • Including at least one woman on the nominating committee will help to avoid in- built or unconscious biases when assessing candidates.
  • Ensuring more than one woman makes it onto the shortlist helps to broaden the perspectives of the nominating committee and increases the chance of a woman being selected.
  • Avoid seeking a “pink unicorn” who ticks all conceivable boxes. Spreading the desired skills over a number of future appointments makes it easier to find female candidates to with at least some of them. Consider succession plans with an eye to what skills the board might need in the future and how female candidates may complement existing skills on the board.
  • Analytical tools that assess the company’s strategy, the board’s needs and desired director attributes help to arrive at optimal board composition.
  • Including board disclosures of the board’s gender policy focus during board member search processes helps to keep the board focused and is more likely to attract women to the company as well as the board.
  • Short, fixed terms for board members makes renewal easier and gives rise to more opportunities for female candidates.
  • A target of 30% female board members is regarded as a minimum best practice to gain the benefits of diversity.
  • Start a program of mentorship, skills enhancement and networking for women who seek to progress in corporate leadership and management. This will help to increase the pool of talented women.
  • Board chairs and members who promote diversity programs are likely to establish networks of female candidates who may be available in the future. They are also likely to attract unsolicited introductions of qualified females who may not have come from within their usual network.
  • Consider the broader interpretation of diversity such as background, culture, experience, thinking and career path.