Board Diversity – Talent Pipelining to Shift the Needle

If you speak to leaders and board directors on a daily (hourly) basis like I do, you’ll start to hear a common theme when it comes to their biggest challenges.

And no, it’s not about Covid, or work-from-home issues and productivity (although this remains an ongoing hot topic). The OTHER thing that’s keeping C- Suiters and Board directors up at night is the lack of diversity on their boards.

Nothing new, of course, but this is a matter that is getting increasingly pressing -– as we’ve recently seen in California. When the governor of one of the largest economies in the world (the state of California), signs a law requiring public companies with H/Qs in California to appoint directors from minority groups, it’s very clear that tides are shifting in terms of the urgency relating to racial diversity on corporate boards.

Having helped many organisations in South Africa transform their executive leadership teams and non-executive boards over the past two decades, I can confirm that, when there is legislative imperative behind the case for diversity, change actually happens.

Albeit sometimes very slowly.

Nevertheless, whether it’s private or public companies, NPOs or start-ups, if you want to make changes to your board appointments, you’ll need to make changes to the talent pool you’re sourcing from. And, to change the make-up of your talent pool (i.e. more diversity candidates to choose from), you’re probably going to need to change your sourcing strategy.

In other words, if you’re actually committed to board diversity, the way things have been done to date is just not going to cut it!

One way that companies can start to shift the needle is to establish a talent pipelining project for diverse board directors.

Talent pipelining is a style of recruiting that is often utilised for lower level, multi-hire positions in an organisation, but the principles of this pro-active recruitment strategy can be applied equally well to board level roles.

Working with an executive search firm on a talent pipelining initiative will enable you to have a pool of potential (diverse) prospects waiting in the wings when you’re ready to appoint. By identifying high quality candidates, and then engaging with them around future potential board roles, you have the opportunity to build relationships with candidates over time, conduct referencing, and assess fit for your board when the time is right.

If you’d like to know more about board level talent pipelining, feel free to reach out to me directly.

Author Info: Debbie Goodman

Debbie is Group CEO of Jack Hammer, a global group of executive search, talent advisory and leadership coaching companies. For more than 20 years she has partnered with some of the world’s most progressive companies, NPOs and VC-backed disruptors, in the USA and Africa, to help them find great leaders who drive growth and impact.

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