Study: Diversity on Corporate Boards Has Many Benefits

A new study from the Institute for Corporate Directors finds that "Canadian corporate directors agree board diversity is an important and worthwhile initiative that can contribute to better decision making and governance."

The study of 550 ICD members found that 90% of those surveyed believe board diversity is "a governance issue of importance," while nearly 80% said it "contributes to better decision making."

The ICD offers the following recommendations for Canadian corporate boards seeking to diversify:

--Consider diversity as an important part of the criteria that are used to determine board composition. Diversity for these purposes should be broadly defined to include gender, ethnicity, age, business experience, functional expertise, personal skills, stakeholder perspectives and geographic background;

--Adopt formal diversity policies that outline the essential criteria and experiential attributes that fulfill the needs of the board;

--Direct search firms, where used, to include diverse candidates in searches whenever possible (and subject to satisfying the qualifications of the position);

--Encourage search firms to include qualified candidates who are unknown to current board members;

--Facilitate diversity agendas that permeate all levels of an organization, starting at the top with the Board, CEO and senior management ranks; and

--Consider limits on the tenure of board members to encourage ongoing board renewal, being mindful of the need for a healthy degree of board continuity and experience.

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