«U37 styrehospiteringsprogrammet» – To find the good balance based on sex, age and competencies
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For the second year in a row, InterSearch Norway has contributed to the selection of board candidates to “U37 Board candidates”, a program hosted by Stavanger Chamber of Commerce. The intention for the program is to contribute towards a stronger focus on diversified boards in the region, based on gender, age and competencies. Last year’s candidates within the program has now completed their 1-year program, and we have now finalized the selection of candidates for the coming year as well. In this post, we discuss why we find diversified boards so important, and why InterSearch Norway has decided to contribute to it.
About the «U37 Board Candidates» program
U37 Board candidates is a one-year program aimed at candidates younger than 37 years old who seek board experience and exposure. The candidates are elected for one year, but are formally not a part of the board, and therefore not allowed to vote. Despite this, it is however the intention for both the candidates, boards and all others involved with the program that they are there not only to learn, but to contribute with the competence they have been brought into the boards for. In this way they should be considered equal to any other member of the board.
What advantages can you get with diversified boards?
It’s of no secret that company boards, nationally and internationally, continue to be very little diversified when it comes to age and gender. Using everyday slang, “white male above 50” is the first to come to mind as the stereo-typical board member. Moreover, if you look at the composure from a competency view point, you will see it’s very little complementary and diversified as well. Naturally most boards have company owners as part of their board. And when they have felt the need to go externally for new board members, they have typically been recruiting for members with background and competencies within economy, auditing and law. This is also quite natural considering the board has the overall responsibility for company compliance issues. But the end result has been that we are looking at very little complementary boards – boards that think and act very similar to each other.
The compliance part of board work, which the traditional boards are very competent at, is by all means very important. But if compliance is given the main act in the boardroom, the risk is that you use disproportionately a lot of time looking in the mirror, focusing on historical data. Besides compliance, we find the most critical aspect of board work to be a strategic partner, looking ahead, developing long-term plans, and helping companies reach their goals. To do this, it’s true you need to have the right experience, but equally important as well to be innovative, to understand new technology, to understand the behaviours of the young generation, and to understand the differences between genders.
With that in mind, will the economist, the auditor or the lawyer within the category «white male above 50” always be the best qualified candidate for your board? My personal view to that question is a categorical no. I firmly believe that the companies most likely to be successful today and, in the future, will be the companies that are competent and able to see the opportunities, challenges, and the future in general from different angles. To achieve this, it will be of utmost importance to look at the composure of competencies, age, gender, demographic and culture in your boardroom and company in general. Because it is not only important for boards, but equally so for the company’s senior management group as well as the rest of the company administration. And that is why the «U37 Board Candidates» program is so interesting and important.
InterSearch Norway recruits for boards and senior management on a daily basis. Our motivation for being part of this program is that we have put diversity as part of our own strategy plan. And it’s not there by coincident. It’s a result of a change in mindset from recruiting companies and the society, both when it comes to board and executive recruitment. Having a diversified board and executive team is increasingly being perceived as important and necessary. The «white male above 50» dominance won’t change overnight, but the fact that society perceives it as important and necessary is the first step into a forced positive change.
Out of an interest to put focus on this issue, I want to follow up some of the companies and candidates of this year’s program. What kind of thoughts and feedback can we see from the companies that has welcomed candidates into their boardroom? And what are the candidates’ experience from the program? Do they see their natural role in the board, and what have they been able to contribute with?
Let’s give the candidates the possibility to gain some experience first, and then we will come back with remarks and thoughts from the companies and candidates participating, as well as our own remarks to this year’s program.
For more information, please contact:
Manager Research & Analysis
Phone: 418 58 205