Lessons on Board Diversity from Silicon Valley
There’s no better place to create a presentation about diversity in the technology industry than from Redmond, WA, the headquarters of Microsoft. I have been asked by NEON CRM to address board diversity and recruitment as it relates to Silicon Valley. NEON CRM is a unique customer relationship management technology system that specifically helps nonprofits manage their relationships and interactions with donors which results in better connection to customers, streamlined processes, and improved revenue growth. As I gather my research and create my slide deck, I look around the room in which I’m sitting. It’s a brewery across the street from the Microsoft campus. And, it’s safe to say that many of the patrons either work at Microsoft, or are connected to the tech industry. Of the 50 people here, it’s clear that there are far more men than women in the establishment. And, there is virtually no ethnic diversity. It’s hard to compare my experience on one day at one brewery to any scientific research on the issue of diversity in tech, but, the research backs up my observation. According to USA Today, “Black and Hispanic representation is declining even as strides have been made in closing the gender gap in San Francisco Bay Area technology companies, according to research published by the non-profit Ascend Foundation.” Although there are about 1,000 miles between Silicon Valley and Redmond, WA, the problems with diversity are similar. According to Iesha Berry, Microsoft senior director of global diversity and inclusion, “While we have had and we’re seeing good progress from a representation perspective … we really do recognize that this only puts us in a position to do more work.” This positive approach to recognizing the problem and then continuously improving is exactly what the tech industry needs to do to foster diversity and inclusion. While there are many avenues to encourage diversity in the tech community, one way the tech community can better diversify their ranks is to be deliberate in their recruitment of Board Directors.
My webinar will start by illuminating the fact that diversity is still an issue in the tech industry. I will then talk about what the research says about diverse teams and how they create better solutions to problems because of the different perspectives of the people around the table. The research also highlights the fact that board diversity leads to increased revenue. Next, we will discuss why diversity is so hard for some to embrace. We’ll end by exploring the current practice of tech companies that recruit boards to raise capital. This recruitment is laser focused on capital while not necessarily including diverse perspectives at the beginning of the board recruitment life cycle. This short sighted approach fails to take into account the diverse makeup of their shareholders and leaves tech boards to strive for diverse board representation well after they have been established or simply ignore board diversity altogether.
The webinar will take place on June 6, 2018 and a link to sign up to attend is here.
For more information on board governance and board diversity, follow along on Twitter or Instagram. Nikki McCord is the founder of McCord Consulting Group, the only choice for organizations looking to energize, innovate, and diversify their Board of Directors.