Bringing Generational Diversity into the Boardroom

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We’re at a time when boards are under increasing pressure to stay in step with disruptions from technology and other forces that constantly threaten established business models. Can the millennial perspective help the board better understand the changing environment and create new opportunities for innovation and growth?

We take a look.         

In the Boardroom

The leadership consulting firm SpencerStuart says that “next-gen directors” are being appointed to boards around the world to bring in expertise in areas ranging from cybersecurity, AI (artificial intelligence), and machine learning, to digital transformation and social communication. Inevitably, experts in these disciplines are from a different generation than the majority of existing board members.

Just as gender diversity in the boardroom encourages different viewpoints, and enables the board to have a broader view of the business, generational diversity can also give organizations an edge over traditional competitors.

Starbucks took a bold step in this direction in 2011 when it appointed then 29-year-old Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, to its board. Other companies with younger board members include Coca Cola which has 37-year-old Caroline Tsay and Walmart with 37-year-old Steuart Walton.

Why Root for Millennials?

This tech-savvy demographic is filled with expert multi-taskers, able to digest and assimilate fairly large quantities of information at a time. They want to work in roles that they feel passionate about. They value transparency in their dealings with the world, and are not afraid to express their opinion. Both integrity and social responsibility are important to them. All of these traits, in turn, are essential in an effective board of directors.

Point of View

Diverse and inclusive organizations that are willing to adapt to the changing forces of the market are those that will thrive amidst disruptions. The tech industry is already leading the way with millennial board members like Lyft’s John Zimmer and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel who have ensured that their companies stay relevant to today’s changing market conditions. By including millennials with a different corporate and world view in the boardroom, organizations can benefit by ensuring a more nuanced approach to governance that resonates well with the industry, shareholders, and employees.

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