Fast-Tracking Board Diversity: New Report Defines Strategic Approach to Changing Board Composition

Boards May 21, 2019


Fast-Tracking Board Diversity: New Report Defines Strategic Approach to Changing Board Composition

A new report from WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) with audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP’s Board Leadership Center shows specific steps companies can take to increase diversity at the board level – and how this effort can drive change deeper in the organization.

“Diversity in the Boardroom: Pushing Forward, Reaching Back,” released today with a video at the 2019 WCD Global Institute in Silicon Valley, was developed by the 2019 WCD Thought Leadership Commission. It adds clarity and specificity to the conversation around board composition, focusing on the issue as part of the company strategy, with defined steps to be taken.

“Directors have it in their hands to change the face of the boardroom,” says Susan C. Keating, CEO of WCD. “We can also reach back – to the leaders emerging in the organization – to drive change around diversity and inclusion in our companies and beyond.” Keating opened the sold-out Global Institute today at the headquarters of Hewlett Packard Enterprise; this is the first time the global directors’ organization is holding its largest annual gathering in Silicon Valley.

“Diversity of thought, background, and experience on boards of directors is essential in this era of change and disruption,” says Susan Angele, senior advisor with the KPMG Board Leadership Center and WCD Thought Leadership Commission chair. “Commissioners contributing to the report come from all over the world and have deep experience with diversity as a critical contributor to a strong board. Their wisdom, insight and practical suggestions are of deep value to directors seeking to enhance the strategic value of their boards.”

Panel on May 21 to raise key issues around getting diverse candidates nominated

At the Global Institute, a panel on May 21 will bring to life the ways boards can expand their candidate pool, define what “diversity” means to their own board, and engage key stakeholders in diversity efforts across the enterprise. In addition to Susan Angele, the “Building a Diverse Board” panel includes other leaders influencing board and C-level talent decisions, including members of an ongoing WCD initiative, the WCD Nominating and Governance Chair Roundtable. Panel participants include:

  • Kapila Anand – Director, Extended Stay America, Inc., ESH Hospitality, Omega Healthcare Investors, and Elanco Animal Health, Inc.; Retired Partner and Senior Advisor, KPMG LLP; Lead Director, WCD Foundation; and WCD Chapter Chair
  • Julie Daum – North American Board Practice Leader, Spencer Stuart; Director, Seacoast Banking Corporation; WCD Advisory Board Member
  • Ben Holzemer – Partner and Head of Global Human Capital, TPG Capital, L.P.
  • Gaby Sulzberger – Co-founder, Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners LP; Director, MasterCard and Brixmor Property Group; WCD Advisory Board Member

Moving along the pathway of board diversity

As the topic of diversity is raised in this and other sessions throughout the Institute, the “Pushing Forward, Reaching Back” report provides clear recommendations for directors to consider for their own boardrooms. It addresses multiple aspects of board diversity, summed up as “define, build, harvest, and sow” and tackles the questions:

  • What are the needs of the company and the expectations of key stakeholders?
  • What are the challenges to building a diverse board and what are the tools?
  • How does the board maximize the value that different perspectives bring?
  • And, how does a diverse board set the tone and move the needle as a strategic enabler to a strong culture and sustainable long-term growth?

Among the recommendations the report suggests are:

  • Using company strategy and stakeholder lenses to establish board diversity goals
  • Developing pathways for the board to tap into new, diverse networks of qualified board candidates
  • Exercising inclusive leadership to harness the full collective intelligence of the board
  • Holding management accountable for inclusive leadership.

The 2019 report is the most recent release from the WCD Thought Leadership Commission, whose mission is to advance key boardroom issues beyond theoretical discussion to practical, actionable recommendations. Previous topics have included decision-making in the boardroom and developing a strong leadership strategy within a company.

The full report and video discussing an intentional approach to board diversity are available

2019 Thought Leadership Commission

Esther Aguilera (US) 
Kapila Anand (US) 
Susan Angele (US) 
Ibukun Awosika (Nigeria) 
Marina Brogi (Italy) 
Julie Hembrock Daum (US) 
Marina Eloy-Jacquillat (France) 
Matt Fust (US) 
Rosheen Garnon (Australia) 
Romi Haan (South Korea) 
Ben Holzemer (US) 
Jannice Koors (US) 
Tara Levy (US) 
Joe Meyer (US) 
Ana Paula Pessoa (Brazil) 
Patricia Pineda (US) 
John Rogers (US) 
Hiltrud Werner (Germany) 
Yennah Mulia Winata (Indonesia) 
Janet Wong (US)

For more information about the WCD Thought Leadership Commission Report, please contact Suzanne Oaks Brownstein or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or

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