The Roundtable panelists today are way past talking about the value of board diversity; they are too busy actually making it happen. Canadian political scientist Dr. Jackie F. Steele facilitated today’s session on “Diversifying Corporate Boards” with panelists Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, CEO of the world’s leading education and research campaign, 50/50 Women on Boards; Nicholas Benes, founder of the organization Board Director of Training Institute (BDTI) in Japan; and Rika Nakazawa, chair and co-founder of Strides USA.
Diversifying Corporate Boards
Dr. Steele: “Leaders are in the position of authority to determine the rules of the game. They decide what excellence looks like.”
Ms. Berkhemer-Credaire: “The only really convincing reason for companies to add diversity to their boards is business reasons.”
Ms. Nakazawa: “Nothing is more important that diversity of thought to get resilience and sustainability.”
Mr. Benes: “You have to break the board out of a consensus-driven monoculture mindset.”
スティール F. 若希氏Jackie F. Steele
株式会社 enjoi 日本 代表取締役
Strides AI 共同創設者兼会長
Board diversity is no longer a distant goal; it’s happening all over the world and in meaningful numbers in some countries. Dr. Steele opened the session by saying that diversity and equity, as drivers of innovation, must be a public/private partnership. She stressed that diversity must be redefined beyond gender to include diversity of thought and lived experience, diversity of expertise, cultural upbringing, and other factors. Rika Nakazawa shared some key findings from her soon-to-be-published book, Dear Chairwoman. She revealed crucial elements of the pay gap that women have historically suffered from and enlightened everyone on the changes that need to be made now to rectify the situation.
Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, widely credited as driving the change in board composition in the US for the past decade, shared a case study on what good governance means and what laws can accomplish. She explained how her campaign has led the fight for these changes, the business issues involved when there’s a diverse board, and the importance of though leadership and then turning that into action.
50/50 Women on Boards CEO
Berkhemer Clayton Retained Executive Search CEO
ニコラス・Ｅ・ベネシュ氏Nicholas E. Benes
Dr. Steele and Mr. Benes discussed the finer details of what it means to diversify a board; what the policy framework looks like and the role of governance codes in making proactive changes. They covered why companies need to aspire to true diversity, not just tick the boxes. Ms. Nakazawa also shared some insight from her work developing a network orchestration platform to create a marketplace focusing on building social capital.
The Q&A was lively, with the panelists providing crucial insight and advice on the state of board diversity today and where it is headed. They dove into the nuances of diversifying a culturally homogenous culture, such as language expansion to capture new ideas and ways of thinking. Dr. Steele spoke about the changes over the past decades in California and the importance of public interest and public capital to support diversity and actual change inside companies. Ms. Berkhemer-Credaire’s shared crucial advice and Mr. Benes spoke about Japan; not only what it means to break away from the cultural consensus, but the benefits reaped for companies and organization that do diversify their thoughts and actions.
Asked for advice on how to work from within an organization to expand diversity, Mr. Benes offered concrete advice on how to enact change instead of just talk about it. Ms. Nakazawa also encouraged today’s listeners to take specific steps that are guaranteed to build social capital. Ms. Berkhemer-Credaire and Dr. Steele joined in and shared some thoughtful comments on the role of leaders in instigating and driving innovative diversity, both in Japan and globally. When the Roundtable ended, the participants were armed with actionable ideas and next steps to take to improve diversity in their companies and on their boards.