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Diversity in the board room

At our Leadership Great South Coast program day “Governance in Community”, we heard about the importance of boards being more adaptive, responsive and diverse to ensure strong community representation.

Morgana Ryan, Facilitator, Author and Business Leader and Karen Foster, Moyne Shire Councillor and Chair of Leadership Great South Coast, spoke about governance structures in our community. We heard about the important role boards play in the strategic direction of organisations.

The discussion throughout the day raised some interesting questions including are our current board members representative of the community?

Ad hoc evidence suggests most board members in our community are men in their late forties or older.

The challenge for our current boards is to consider diversity.  How can boards attract younger community members to participate more? How can we encourage additional First Nations people to participate on boards? Females make up half our community, what can we do to promote females as board members? We also need to consider ways to incorporate representation from minority groups such as LGBTQIA+, migrant and disability communities.

With diversity comes broad perspectives and opinion, which can lead to healthy debate and improved decision making.

As a community, what are some proactive steps we can take to change the makeup of our boards?

Our speakers revealed the appetite of boards to be more diverse. They spoke about the “Observership Program”, which facilitates the involvement of young, talented, and energetic individuals in a structured experience on non-profit Boards. In this instance, an ‘Observer’ (a non-voting member) is paired with an organisation for a 12-month period, where they can observe the board, its processes and structures. By exposing young people to boards, it is hoped they will apply to be a voting board member at the end of their tenure.

Board selection base on quota is another option. In this method the specific percentage of board members are selected based on their gender, age or community.

It also comes down to the individual. If you are passionate about an area of a board and you can add your values and diversity to the board and its community, please do not hesitate to apply.

Thank you to all our speakers, Morgana Ryan, Karen Foster and David Sprigg from Infoxchange for their flexibility and quick response to our changing circumstances

For more information about joining the boards you can use the below links

Matine Tondkar, 2022 LGSC Participant

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