Recent progress—and the continued push—toward greater boardroom diversity comes at a pivotal time for corporate America. A KPMG Board Leadership Center survey of directors uncovered a lingering false perception that there is a lack of qualified diverse board candidates.
“Boards need to prioritize diversity and expand their search networks,” said Susan Angele, a senior director with the BLC. “There still is a long way to go to educate board members about the strength of a diverse pipeline.”
Research has shown that diversity of people, experience, and skills can help improve board decision-making and boards that include directors with diverse backgrounds and experiences are more effective on a variety of measures, including financial performance, risk oversight and sustainability.
Multiple other KPMG reports, such as The Women Changing California Boardrooms, that looked at board diversity found that efforts to diversify boards expanded the pool of qualified director candidates.
The ability to challenge long-held assumptions; understand megatrends; and effectively calibrate strategy, risk, and talent in the context of heightened stakeholder expectations puts a premium on thinking differently for directors.
The BLC surveyed more than 700 directors around the world to better understand how directors view the opportunities and challenges of enhancing diversity in the boardroom.
Among the U.S. respondents, the survey results show that:
— Many directors would make moderate changes to their board’s composition if starting from a clean sheet today.
— Directors have concerns about blind spots and missed opportunities due to a lack of diverse views.
— Sixty-nine percent of directors say board diversity of composition and thinking is relevant or very relevant to the company’s consideration of its role in society.
— While a majority of directors say board leadership is effective at drawing out the views of all members, achieving better boardroom discussions is a work in progress.
— Racial and ethnic diversity and technology and digital experience continue to be in high demand.