Seven in 10 boards seek skill sets beyond finance, as they deal with business uncertainty and digital disruption

December 12, 2017

Old Game, New Rules: How boards of today are preparing for tomorrow – The Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Report 2017/18 In Partnership with London Business School’s Leadership Institute.

Seventy percent of board directors believe boards need to extend their functional experience beyond finance and governance, and six in 10 are aiming to improve their cultural diversity.

Striving for inclusivity, overcoming ‘groupthink’ and the challenges of introducing a range of perspectives into the boardroom are just some of the challenges facing today’s boards.

Allowing fresh ideas, opinions and quieter voices to be heard are some of the areas canvassed on the subject of board diversity in Old Game, New Rules How boards of today are preparing for tomorrow.

This year’s Harvey Nash Board Research for 2017/18, which has been prepared in partnership with London Business School’s Leadership Institute, also looked at the need for boards to be digitally aware and ‘fit for purpose’ in a fast-changing digital world.

The research represents the views of more than 826 non-executive directors from the UK, Nordic countries and the Asia-Pacific region.

Another key finding from the report is that diversity is no longer a peripheral issue for organisations, with half of all survey respondents recognising it as a concern. More companies are prioritising diversity, seeing it as integral to a successful business.

Many respondents noted that there is a need to move on from potentially outmoded definitions of diversity in order to explore greater board representation, such as looking at sexual orientation, which has moved upwards in this year’s survey compared with 2016. Respondents are prioritising functional expertise (72 %), cultural diversity (58%) and international experience (55%).

Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash, said: “We know that businesses recognise the commercial value of a more diverse organisation, as we’re increasingly asked to provide a more varied talent pool for new hires. But there’s little point for a company to broaden their hiring strategy without looking at their own culture first. In order to celebrate diversity, businesses need to ensure their organisation is a welcoming and open place to work, where individuals can have their opinions heard and truly add value.”

Commenting on the need to reach for deeper definitions of diversity Randall Peterson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School, said: “When we used to think of diversity in the past, we thought of race and gender, but there is so much more to consider: generational, age, sexual orientation, personality and even functional diversity.”

About Harvey Nash’s Board Practice

Harvey Nash’s Board Practice helps some the world’s most forward-thinking companies attract, assess and develop their board. The global team members are experts at building rich, diverse teams and look beyond the norm to find the exceptional. The Practice provides two key service offerings: evaluation – reviewing the effectiveness of existing boards, and recruitment – finding exceptional talent to add strength to the boardroom team.

The Board Practice is part of Harvey Nash Group a $1bn global professional recruitment company with over 4,000 professionals in more than 40 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia.

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About London Business School

London Business School’s vision is to have a profound impact on the way the world does business. The School is consistently ranked in the global top 10 and is widely acknowledged as a centre for outstanding research. As well as its highly ranked degree programmes, the School offers award-winning executive education programmes to executives from around the world. With a presence in five international cities – London, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Dubai – the School is well positioned to equip students from more than 130 countries with the tools needed to operate in today’s business environment. The School has more than 42,000 alumni, from over 150 countries, which provide a wealth of knowledge, business experience and worldwide networking opportunities. London Business School’s 157 academics come from more than 30 countries and cover seven subject areas: accounting; economics; finance; management science and operations; marketing; organisational behaviour; and strategy and entrepreneurship.

Find out more about the Board Report here.

Or contact Catharina Mannerfelt, partner and Head of Board Services in the Nordics.
Media and press: Satu Ahlman.