Diversity in Boardrooms

Diversity in the Board Room

By Bram Vis – Guest Contributor

Businesses succeed or fail for all sorts of reasons – not in the scope of this of this presentation – but we all are very familiar with the usual suspects – 

  1. The right product
  2. The right price for the product
  3. The right skillset of the company going forward
  4. The right advice – legal/accounting/professional
  5. The right amount of initial capital investment in the first place
  6. The right controls put on cash-flow to determine the growth of the company

A successful and a dynamic board is only one of a number of areas that simply must be considered as vital in going forward.

To be honest – I have never seen anyone disagree with that principle – that we could all benefit from a little helping hand – not all of the time – but some of the time.

What should your Boardroom look like?

It is all too easy to look at ‘roles’ in the boardroom and think – that is it?

That is not it.

Sure – we know that we need a:

CEO                           Chief Executive Officer replacing the more traditional UK – centric Managing Director

CFO                           Chief Financial Officer replacing the traditional FD

CTO                           Chief Technology Officer

Head of HR  

Head of Marketing

Head of Sales

Non Executive Directors – assorted NEDs depending on what the company does.

But – the elephant in the room – is – let’s forget the actual roles of the Board – let’s consider the make-up of the Board.

What does it look like?

The contention of this paper is that any Board, to be effective, needs to reflect

  1. The population at large
  2. The regional differences
  3. The customers of the ‘product’

Let’s consider each one of these:

  1. The population at large

The UK has a diverse population – not quite as diverse as some people would have us believe – but clearly diverse.

It is made up of different sexes, races, proclivities, nationalities and so on.

Can Boards just simply ignore that?

Sex                 realistically it is about 50:50 between men and women.

                        Are Boards?

Race               80% of the population is white, 20% are not.

                        Are Boards?

LGBTQ          A %, no-one really knows, but let’s say 3% are LGBTQ

                        Are Boards?

Disabled        As much as 22% of the UK population is now ‘disabled, according to latest figures – and within that – there is obviously a range of issues

Education       This used to be the yardstick to consider social class – not so any more.

                        The stats are unclear.

                        30% of the population have undergraduate degrees in the UK

                        70% do not

                        Do Boards reflect this?

Age                What do we know….

Population 64,769,452 (July 2017 est.)
Age structure 0-14 years: 17.53% (male 5,819,363/female 5,532,123)
15-24 years: 11.9% (male 3,938,643/female 3,770,511)
25-54 years: 40.55% (male 13,387,903/female 12,873,090)
55-64 years: 11.98% (male 3,843,268/female 3,918,244)
65 years and over: 18.04% (male 5,246,475/female 6,439,832) (2017 est.)

So – over 2/3s of the UK population are under the age of 55?

Do Boards reflect this?

Similarly – if 18% of the population is now over 65 – and that figure is rising,

Do Boards reflect that?

We could go on, breaking down the population into subsets, but what is clear, is that we need to acknowledge that the population at large is made up of differences!


Are we reflective of this?

Religions Christian (includes Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) 59.5%, Muslim 4.4%, Hindu 1.3%, other 2%, unspecified 7.2%, none 25.7% (2011 est.)

It always seems political to discuss religion!

But it isn’t.

It is just a case of fact.

95.6% of the population are NOT Muslim – but zero representation on Boards?

25.7% are agnostic – should we just ignore this fact?

  • The regional differences

There are massive differences in the UK – we all see that.

Some areas are massively more ethnically diverse than others.

Much nonsense is spoken about this though and there is double-speak – even by the BBC about this.

Census 2011 : Leicester ‘most ethnically diverse in region’. 

the BBC 12/12/2012


Having a ‘diverse’ population simply should not mean that it is dominated by one race or another.

If you went to a little village in Cornwall (say) where there was 99% white people, no-one would say that is the most ethnically ‘diverse’ in the UK – that would be nonsense – it clearly is not – it is dominated by 1 race.

Leicester has a 50% of the population who is non-white – that TOO is not diverse – it is weighted in the favour of non-whites.

Some schools famously are 95% non-white – that is not ‘diverse’ either.

It does not reflect the country at large – there will be obvious problems and obvious cracks in the system that will appear.

  • The customers of the product

You can’t simply ignore your customer.

Of course – someone who is 60 can sell something to someone who is 30 and understand their needs and so on………

But in the eyes of a 60 year old.

They won’t even know that there is an alternative!

Let us start with the extreme examples and work backwards.

Tampons       quite honestly, why would this not be a woman’s domain?

                        Forget the PC nonsense about sexual equality…

                        But this simply HAS to be led, and developed by women

Saris                           Why would a middle aged white man from 150 miles away from the market have anything to do with this

Computer Games    Are these played by old men?


                                    Young people play them and young people MUST be involved s     somehow. We can’t just ignore them?

Technology                Industries are being created as we speak in AI

                                    Changes are being made in every industry.

                                    Growth will come from age 18-30 – there is no doubt about that.

                                    Do our Boards reflect this?

Dresses                     Come on – ladies fashion wear.

Suits                           Come on –men’s fashion wear.

There is no doubt that people from any background and any persuasion can make a valuable contribution to any company.

We are not saying that.

We are saying that, as of now – companies need direction!

Companies need to be told what to aim for?

What to aspire to?

If your Board is full of middle aged white men – you know – that is not good for you, the company, the population or the shareholders!

If your Board is full of Asian men – you know – that is ALSO not good.

If your Board is 100% female – that is also not good.

If your Board is 100% Disabled – that is also not good.

But 0%?  Come on – we know that is not good!!!

How to change?

We need to be reflective of the society we are in?

It is not an easy process – but we need to change.

It will take time.

But we cannot just keep on ignoring it and hoping that it will go away!

Yours sincerely

Bram Vis    CeMAP®

Mortgage Broker – See Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bramvis/


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