Ever since Derek Higgs[i] proposed that non-executive directors be sought from a broader range of potential candidates, including those which would capture likely female appointees, diversifying board composition has become a world-wide trend.
At one end of the spectrum, voluntary codes of governance have been revised to include “diversity” guidelines for increasing the number of women on boards, and in senior executive ranks.[ii] At the other extreme, in 2003 Norway legislated for corporate boards to increase the number of directors in the “under-represented gender”[iii] on the board or else face de-listing by the Norwegian Stock Exchange.[iv]
Whether that person is a woman, a younger person, an indigenous director or a director born in an Asian country – further examination is needed of the impact of introducing a person of “difference” into a group whose membership that has a long tradition of “refreshing” its membership from a similar group of people. Questions to consider include adapting leadership styles for the chairman, training the whole board to better understand different perspectives, and revising induction programs for new directors.