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To make companies more diverse, change has to come from the board

By Quartz

It's up to board members to make diversity policies a priorityRead full story

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  • In June, my colleague Sharon Thorne will become the first woman to lead the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. This is a major milestone in Deloitte’s history—but I’m more excited about what it means for our future. As the article states, if the tone at the top isn’t being set by the board, more likely than not it’s not being set further down—a potentially fatal flaw for businesses. Our millennial research shows a strong correlation between employee loyalty and perceptions of workforce diversity

    In June, my colleague Sharon Thorne will become the first woman to lead the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. This is a major milestone in Deloitte’s history—but I’m more excited about what it means for our future. As the article states, if the tone at the top isn’t being set by the board, more likely than not it’s not being set further down—a potentially fatal flaw for businesses. Our millennial research shows a strong correlation between employee loyalty and perceptions of workforce diversity. In other words, diversity—at all levels—is key to loyalty. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s good for business.

  • It takes real commitment to drive change. It's time to stop talking about how we need companies to be more diverse, how they need to reflect the consumers they serve... and just get them to act. The board of a company sets the tone and can hold the CEO accountable. If not now, when?

  • When change and acceptance don’t come from the top down, progression is usually limited. A diverse board will have a different view of the culture of the company than a board filled with like-minded and single gender/race individuals.

  • I am a woman. I aspire to gain enough expertise and knowledge to afford me a seat at the top.

    But then, I am of the opinion that COMPETENCE and CAPACITY should be of utmost importance when making a decision regarding LEADERSHIP, not SEX or RACE.

  • I weep that something so intuitively obvious requires an article. And that in 2019 it is even necessary.

  • While diversity needs to be enforced by board decisions, the board doesn’t necessarily need to be diverse in the first place. Staff your company with a diverse mindset and your employees will get the idea, that the people on top are not desperately trying to protect the patriarchy. A diverse middle management will change a company at its core, will hire diverse staff and that will reflect in the company’s decisions and products, and ultimately affect the board to change.

    This year we have seen racist

    While diversity needs to be enforced by board decisions, the board doesn’t necessarily need to be diverse in the first place. Staff your company with a diverse mindset and your employees will get the idea, that the people on top are not desperately trying to protect the patriarchy. A diverse middle management will change a company at its core, will hire diverse staff and that will reflect in the company’s decisions and products, and ultimately affect the board to change.

    This year we have seen racist algorithms - those weren’t written based on management decisions. We have seen H&M and other manufacturers sell racist clothing - because the designers and everyone along the line didn’t see it. That’s not management decisions, that is companies with a straight white male core in middle management.

    And yes, being able to speak truth to power is essential. People shouldn’t be held accountable for this, they need to be held accountable for not doing it. Whenever I as CEO make a bad decision, that’s on me, for sure. But when I discuss it with my employees and they see those flaws, it’s on them to speak up. People in fear of losing their jobs only points to a broken culture in the company. Encourage discussions and new ideas, invest some time even though you think they won’t lead anywhere. Because if everyone else thinks it’s good ideas, maybe you’re the one who is disconnected from the market

  • Diversity is just the start. Change always has to be driven by the top. That means the board. Sometimes it’s about new people and sometimes it’s about how they function (how about a committee focused on employee satisfaction/long term outlook etc vs just audit/financial risk/comp board committees).

  • As we continue to discuss the "future of work" and breakdown age-old concepts like the 9-to-5, the gig economy, remote work and other various shifts I wonder if it makes sense to go back to first principles and relook at the primary reason that boards were instituted for companies.

    While I'm not aware of the intricacies of board structures, I wonder if it might make sense to have different models for how boards are structured. Do they have to be permanent? Or can there be a rotating board? Are

    As we continue to discuss the "future of work" and breakdown age-old concepts like the 9-to-5, the gig economy, remote work and other various shifts I wonder if it makes sense to go back to first principles and relook at the primary reason that boards were instituted for companies.

    While I'm not aware of the intricacies of board structures, I wonder if it might make sense to have different models for how boards are structured. Do they have to be permanent? Or can there be a rotating board? Are there entire boards only made of consumers of your company as opposed to top ranking executives?

    Just a thought.

  • The role of a board is to set along with the management team the strategy and the direction of the company. Setting diversity as a goal is only one issue within governance, an important one, but only one issue in the grand scheme of things. Far too often the chairman and the board of directors view their roles as agenda setters and advisory discussion facilitators. While a board of directors is always an advisory role, in today's environment it is far more proactive and needs to be.

  • Let us not stop by addressing the symptoms. Keenness for diversity is CULTURAL. Board’s attention as well as inclusion certainly helps! But, the entire leadership team (not just the Board) needs to embrace diversity in everyday corporate practices and ingrain it into the cultural DNA of the organization. Also, diversity is not just about inclusion but also about true empowerment.

  • We too often frame “diversity” in the context of race, gender, etc. Strong Boards need diversity of thought, which as a consequence assembles leaders from different backgrounds, which as a consequence yes, may, assemble leaders of different color, religion, gender and so forth. Let’s resist the practice of grouping and categorizing people based on their external features. There is no need for that in the 21st century.

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