We greeted the news that Vince Cable is to launch a drive to target 20% ethnic minorities on FTSE 100 boards by 2020 with mixed feelings. Setting more and more targets for companies, however well-intentioned, just leads to gridlock and possibly resentment. It is far better to keep going in the journey towards cultural change with a focus on improved corporate governance, than to overly socially engineer things by creating yet more targets.
The debate around boardroom composition has already naturally evolved well beyond gender, and now looks at talent management and cognitive diversity. Allowing a debate to organically broaden like this is the best way of increasing participation from various groups, and thus more likely to lead to long-term success.
From our experience looking at and working with companies, we have tended to see a natural evolution from a women’s group to other forms of diversity being more openly discussed, then welcomed and acted upon.
Women are a useful place to start (but not end) the diversity journey as we are not a minority, and correcting that misconception leads organically to other representation, without the need for multiple targets.