Board Diversity Workshop Spotlight at the Young Audiences Leadership Conference

 
                                                                     Dr. Hindsman giving her opening remarks
 
“Has your board had a serious conversation about diversity and inclusion?” This is a simple question, but it opens the door to a topic that is increasingly important in an ever diversifying world. With the rise of globalization and the ability to communicate with a global audience readily accessible, having a diverse leadership structure with a solid cultural competence to direct your organization’s efforts is of the utmost importance.
 
In order to have any kind of conversation about diversity, it is important to be able to set a definition for what it actually means to be diverse. It is not enough to pick a single facet and point to it as an indicator of successful diversity. Diversity goes beyond solely accounting for race or ethnicity and there are many additional aspects that must be taken into account, such as regional diversity, social diversity, familial diversity, gender diversity, and age diversity- to name a few. Being a diverse organization means looking at all of these facets of diversity and bringing together aspects from each in order to use combined experiences to make better decisions in leadership, as well as organizational implementation.
 
What are the benefits of diversity?  Having diverse leadership brings with it a diversity of experiences including access to differentiated skillsets, perspectives, backgrounds and resources that may previously have been lacking in a more homogeneous environment. Embracing an inclusionary mindset also has the potential of attracting a broader market base, and in turn a wider range of donors and supporters. There are a multitude of benefits beyond what is readily apparent and common sense dictates that if there is a broader range of thought at the leadership level, there will be more opportunity to come up with inspired ideas and trendsetting movements that can define an organization.
 
 
Attendees at this fall’s Young Audiences Arts for Learning Leadership Conference had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Robin L. Hindsman - Senior Governance Consultant from Boardsource and organizational diversity expert - to explore the topic of Board Diversity in detail. Throughout the session, Dr. Hindsman built a case for board diversity and prompted discussion and interaction between those in attendance about their current position on diversity and led them through steps that they could follow if they wanted help to continue to successfully grow in diversification.
 
With her guidance, attendees – a mixture of affiliate board members and leadership- were prompted to think about and draft a Case Statement for their respective organizations. The Case Statement is a document that provides answers to questions such as “how does inclusiveness impact your mission?”, “what benefits will be gained?”, “what will your organization look and feel like?”, and “what’s your compelling case?” and also serves as a public notice of intent that shows an organization’s support of diversity. Building a Case Statement is the first step towards establishing an action plan for implementing a culture and practice of Diversity and Inclusion.
 
Though the goal is to create a diverse board which stimulates inclusive thinking throughout the ranks, building an inclusive and diverse organization isn’t a goal with an endpoint, but instead is a continual process that first starts with a shift in thinking and then continues to grow and evolve as needed. This session gave an insightful overview of the benefits of board diversity, which allowed the affiliate leadership to really focus on where their organization was in this process, and inspired them to take the next steps on the path towards diversity.
 
Dr. Hindsman left attendees with a final quote to mull over from “Why Diversity Can Backfire on Company Boards”, a Wall Street Journal Article by Jean-Francois Manzoni, Paul Strebel, and Jean-Louis Barsoux. 
 
“…diversity leads to more innovation, more outside-the-box thinking and better governance…To unlock the benefits…boards must learn to work with colleagues who were selected not because they fit in – but because they don’t."
 
For more information from the presentation, download the powerpoint presentation here.
 
For more information about Boardsource, visit their website at www.boardsource.org
 
 

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