For-profit and nonprofit boards and their CEOs must create more ambitious and successful enterprises by recruiting board members from more diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Individuals who are accomplished and come from a variety of corners of the community and the world will enrich board discussions and make better decisions through a deeper and broader appreciation of both the challenges and opportunities.
Moreover, for-profit and nonprofit boards must become stronger by recruiting candidates with experience and expertise that are relevant to each particular enterprise. Strategic acumen and business skills are also necessary qualifications for board members to understand the complexities of organization-building, finance, and markets.
Here are five keys to building stronger boards comprised of diverse and well qualified candidates:
- Board governance or nominating committees must be highly purposeful in determining what experience and expertise is most needed for the particular enterprise, conduct outreach to well qualified board candidates from a variety of backgrounds, and then – with board input and support – recruit and nominate outstanding individuals.
- Executive search firms are a useful resource to for-profit boards in identifying and introducing qualified board candidates; boards and search firms should be more aggressive in looking far beyond their usual sources for more diverse candidates.Additionally, foundations and funders should invest in building robust and professional board-matching services for nonprofits at the global, national, and regional levels to help them to recruit and screen highly qualified board candidates.
- Boards should consider board member candidates on the basis of their potential to be future leaders. Then, as board members demonstrate their qualities by contributing intelligently and usefully, they should be groomed and coached and advanced into leadership roles as committee chairs and officers.
- Boards should increase their effectiveness through annual board assessments.In both for-profits and nonprofits, the board should have an expert consultant facilitate a customized process to help the board assess how it works.The process should result in a concrete plan for the board to improve itself in terms of composition, practices, and structure, in order to further advance the purposes of the enterprise.
- Businesses and communities should invest in preparing future board members through leadership development programs designed specifically for individuals interested in board governance.
Next week’s presidential inauguration marks a time of great hope and promise. Let’s be ambitious in identifying and developing new leaders for the boards of for-profit and nonprofit enterprises for a more prosperous, sustainable, and peaceful world.