The Future of Boards: Why Diversity Matters
Stability and familiarity are rewarding, but preserving the ‘Old Boys’ Club’ mentality in boardrooms is far from what is needed in today’s business climate. Managing Partner at Drayton Glendower Keamogetse “Moula” Mokhobo-Amegashie brings 25+ years of consulting experience to this topic and shares her views on the evolution of the board ecosystem as a precursor to her upcoming Masterclass in The Room.
Prior to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations were interrogating issues around sustainability, ethics and governance. This clearly put C-suite roles, Chairpersons, Lead Independent Directors and shareholders under additional scrutiny in managing large scale complexity and risk.
An organisation’s key transformation drivers have a responsibility to lead the charge to champion diversity and inclusivity.
In order to manage enterprise risk, there has been an increased focus on board effectiveness. To this end, boards have scrutinised their diversity and inclusion processes as well as overall board effectiveness and composition. Attracting a diverse and inclusive board and moving away from traditional board sponsorship practices (the ‘old boys’ club’) is key to doing this. The perception is that intrinsic trust is associated with recruitment processes that rely on these ‘old’ networks. However, removing representational and socioeconomic barriers expands the pool of talent beyond such conventional settings, and an organisation’s key transformation drivers (Chairperson of the Board and Chairpersons of Nominations and Remuneration committees) have a responsibility to lead this charge. They should have a vested interest and commitment to championing diversity and inclusivity.
To put this into perspective, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than a quarter of the world’s population of under 25-year-olds — 60% of the continent’s population. By 2025, the ‘Millennial Generation’ of the internet age, born between 1980 to 2000, and ‘Generation Z’ of the iPhone/Facebook era, born after 2000, will constitute 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Coupled with the current global landscape, these insights take on a nuanced meaning when understood within South Africa’s context, where I’m situated. The character of the country’s marketplace offers a dynamic case study often associated with challenging the myth of ‘non-existent’ black executive and board talent across strategic, functional, technical, commercial and technological capabilities.
Best-in-class board members build healthy leadership ecosystems and treat disruption as an opportunity for transformation, collaboration and reinvention.
Recent research suggests that disruption caused by the pandemic has illuminated new differentiators that set board members of the future apart. Increasingly, innovation, resilience, agility and the ability to cope with uncertainty are highlighted as essential traits in tackling shifting and accelerating business landscapes. Although certain competencies (such as technical and commercial acumen, resilience and leadership) remain, best-in-class board members lead in an environment in which their businesses can thrive and operate with an outlook beyond their organisation, and actively engaging dynamic and diverse communities. The Chairperson seeks to build healthy leadership ecosystems and treat disruption as an opportunity for transformation, collaboration and reinvention.
In the current context, there is a need to deeply scrutinise the roles and compositions of boards. Boards need to capacitate themselves to manage threats such as cyber security and third-party risks that characterise the global risk landscape. This will have the impact of accelerating how organisations onboard digitally-literate industry leaders who are emotionally intelligent and purpose driven. Given the pronounced disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on business, boards and executives have to lead networked organisations and manage increasing complexity and risk.
Within such a complex and ever-changing environment, how do you adequately prepare and capacitate yourself to be a board member? This is a question that needs to be top of mind for business leaders and those aspiring to board roles — bearing in mind the strategic, commercial and social factors shaping today’s diverse landscape.
Moula will be discussing this topic in her Masterclass series — “The Boardwalk” — starting on 18th August, exploring how to position yourself for service on the boards of the future.
Moula is the Managing Partner at Drayton Glendower and leads the Executive Search Capability globally. In addition to her search work in South Africa, she is an expert in the sub Saharan business landscape and has supported clients in a range of industries across the region and internationally. She has partnered with organisations in the public and private sectors, at both Board and senior Executive levels.