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Enriching Organizational Performance: The Case for Diversifying Boards and Councils

Diverse Board meeting

From the boardroom to the front lines of operations, organizations are recognizing the value of incorporating diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences into their teams. This shift towards diversity isn’t just a matter of optics; it’s a strategic imperative that can drive innovation, improve decision-making, and enhance organizational performance. 

Better outcomes and stronger strategic decisions 

Traditionally, individuals who share similar demographics and life experiences have dominated Boards and Councils. However, research consistently shows that diverse boards lead to better outcomes. 

Organizations with diverse boards are more likely to outperform their peers; they frequently make better strategic decisions and can navigate complex challenges much more effectively. Additionally, organizations with more Diverse Boards/Councils often achieve better financial performance.

Diversifying the board of directors or council members brings a variety of perspectives to the table, ensuring that decision-makers consider different viewpoints when making key decisions. This diversity of thought can lead to more innovative solutions, as board members leverage their unique backgrounds and experiences to tackle problems from multiple angles.

But it’s not necessarily the “diversity of thought or perspective” that makes more diverse Boards/Councils perform better. 

In their best-selling book ‘Meltdown,’ authors Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik explain that diverse boards perform better because the mere presence of diverse board members changes the decision making of the entire board. In these scenarios, everyone is more skeptical and there is ample room for discussion, debate, and for board members to ask questions they otherwise wouldn’t in a more homogenous environment. 

Clearfield and Tilcsik go on to explain that “We tend to trust the judgement of people who look similar to us, so homogenous groups reduce tension and make for smooth effortless interactions…[which] is not always a bad thing.” 

Homogenous groups can often get things done faster due to less friction, and due to the confidence members of such groups tend to have in one another. But homogeneity has a very real downside. Clearfield and Tilcsik point out that “Homogeneity makes things too easy. It leads to too much conformity and not enough skepticism. It makes it easier for [the Board/Council and the organization itself] to fall for bad ideas.”

Homogenous Boards/Councils consistently underperform. Why?

Because diversity leads to friction. It feels less comfortable. It feels less familiar. 

On the surface, this may seem like the opposite of what your organization is aiming to achieve, but you should embrace it. These qualities make everyone more vigilant, skeptical, and more critical, which leads to your Board or Council being able to see things they would otherwise overlook.

Regular healthy discussion and debate among diverse Boards and Councils leads to improved overall decision-making and organizational performance.

Examining your Board or Council composition

Look at the composition of your own Board or Council. Is it homogenous or diverse?

If your Board or Council is homogenous, look for opportunities to diversify. Bring people from equity-deserving groups to the table. Seek to fill all public appointments on your Board or Council, ensuring each member of the public who sits on your board has a different educational/career/ethnic or other diverse characteristics. 

Also, when it comes to protecting the public interest, as regulatory bodies/agencies do, it’s key that Board or Council leadership (and management) represents the public they are mandated to protect.

Embracing diversity is not a simple “tick-the-box” exercise. It takes work, but the work is worth it.

Organizations with Board or Council diversity often significantly improve financial performance, strategic decision-making, their ability to navigate challenges and solve complex problems effectively.

Building a Board or Council that reflects the public the organization is meant to serve can also help to build trust which supports regulators as they serve and protect the public.

How can help

How can support you as you take steps to further diversify your Board or Council? Utilize to promote your Board or Council vacancies, along with career opportunities, volunteer positions, and RFPs! 

When you’re ready to fill vacancies, list them on our platform to connect with a broader and more diverse audience.

This article aims to highlight the diverse and fulfilling career opportunities in the licensing and regulation sector, emphasizing the sector’s need for various skill sets and the unique benefits of working in this field. It is intended for publication on platforms catering to job seekers and professionals considering a career change. Originally published on