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60 second interview with Dr Melanie Goward

60 second interview with Dr Melanie Goward

Deputy Fund Manager Dr Melanie Goward talks to us on the benefits of embracing diversity in the boardroom

What is diversity in the boardroom?

I believe that diversity in the boardroom is about being open-minded and valuing what people can bring to the boardroom because of their background, age, race, ethnicity, culture, physical ability, religion and sexual orientation.  

Does it matter?

Yes.  Businesses are increasingly more global in their outlook and they need to appeal to a wider range of customers than ever.  By embracing diversity at board level businesses can potentially enhance their competitive position by improving their understanding of key customers and markets and opening up new opportunities.

Is it good for business?

Within the portfolio of companies I manage at Finance Wales, the boards I work with that are more diverse in terms of their experience and background certainly seem to have more robust discussions which often improve their strategy and a greater sense of momentum.

More widely, the experiences of UK companies as well as academic research suggest that in addition to increasing profits, diversity can result in more innovation and creativity as well as better customer care.  Better understanding of cultural differences and a wider range of perspectives can also provide more rigorous and critical decision-making.

It can also pay dividends for recruitment.  Businesses that champion diversity often attract a wider range of candidates and potentially higher calibre pool of candidates.

What are the challenges to creating diversity in boardrooms?

Again, within the portfolio of companies I manage at Finance Wales, I’m challenging the boards I work with to look outside their comfort zones and recruit more widely. This can bring a fresh outlook and new ideas.

Informal mentoring and coaching can inspire and develop new leaders.  Equally, organisations such as Super Woman host events like the recent Get Yourself Boardroom Ready which was sponsored by Finance Wales are a good place to start. The Aspire Foundation can also provide good practice examples of mentoring schemes.

Diversity quotas are sometimes used to develop employees and may be something boards could consider, although they aren’t always appropriate for smaller businesses.

What can you do to ensure boardrooms are diverse?

In my experience, boards can often be made up of similar types of people, which means that the company could be missing out on senior-level experience and knowledge that could help to improve key aspects of their business.

I’d recommend looking for the obvious gaps in your board and thinking about the knowledge, expertise and experience your business could be missing out on.