Executive boards are small groups of 3 or as many as 30 people depending on the size of the company. Historically, the board members have been selected to serve based on specific criteria such as long standing industry experience, finance experience, or a specific connection to the company’s market. Board members are often chosen from a group of people that the company already knows either through external connections or because that person was once an executive in the company. Often that pool of individuals is not diverse with people of various backgrounds.
To increase diversity on boards, the company will likely have to modify criteria it uses to find board members. This does not mean that criteria are softened; often there are even more-highly-qualified candidates who have been excluded from the process in the past. However, it does mean that the standards need to be reconsidered so that they are just as stringent without being exclusive to white men.
- Read “Why Do Boards Have So Few Black Directors?” from HBR (article, 10-60 minutes).