While others debate whether boards should have one woman or two or three, whether quotas should be mandated or not, where on earth to find a woman who has adequate experience or intellect, and whether or not a woman might degrade shareholder value, IAC/InterActiveCorp did something bold.
This leading global internet company elected two women directors who will each contribute unique value to the IAC board: Chelsea Clinton, 31, who is pursuing a doctorate at Oxford University and is working at the Clinton Global Initiative; and Sonali de Rycker, 38, a general partner at Accel Partners, where she focuses on investments in the consumer Internet and digital media sectors.
Any company that seeks to compete in the global marketplace will be wise to follow IAC’s example. With its mission to “harness the power of interactivity to make daily life easier and more productive for people all over the world,” IAC is smart enough to understand that the company will require board members with the vision, worldly experience, youth, and diversity of backgrounds and perspectives of such extraordinary candidates as Clinton and de Rycker.
It has actually puzzled me for quite some time how any board can maximize shareholder value in today’s environment if the board is dominated by homogeneous groups of elderly white men who grew up in an era of rotary telephones and three television channels, and many of whom are retired. In fact, according to recent findings in Heidrick & Struggles Board Monitor, the average age for board members is 57, ethnic diversity is dropping, and gender diversity is maintaining but not progressing.
Now that a company like IAC is showing some enlightenment about including board members who bring bright, fresh, relevant, worldly, and current insights to the boardroom, let’s imagine a variety of people who might have value to add. For companies that seek to create, price, and market unique and competitive products and services in emerging markets, consider board candidates who have built innovative and successful enterprises that are solving the world’s most daunting challenges in economic development or the conservation and sustainability of natural resources. Some of these individuals are even in their 30s and 40s and come from a wide range of backgrounds; many of them have already demonstrated their creativity, vision, acumen, and excellence.
Companies that build their boards with the Clintons, de Ryckers, and other dynamic and talented people will position themselves to win in the global marketplace that includes emerging countries and new technology.
[Image: Flickr user NatalieMaynor]