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Board appointments still made within closed networks

Posted on from Changeboard

Four in ten hires at board level are made without any formal process, is this stifling digital innovation and diversity?

New research has revealed that many senior board appointments are made within a small network of professionals.

In a survey of over 650 non-executive directors from the UK, Harvey Nash and the London Business School’s (LBS) Leadership Institute found that four in ten hires are made without any formal process, as more than half of positions go to candidates already known to the organisation.

This discovery comes despite almost two-thirds of boards prioritising widening the skillset of their boards, with a particular focus o hiring candidates well versed in digital.

Christine de Largy, chair of the UK Board Practice at Harvey Nash said: “In the face of the current challenging global economic climate, boards need to evolve to be fit for the 21st century. The status quo is being disrupted by external pressures and chairs need to act now to prepare their boards for the future.”

While digitisation is ostensibly on the agenda for many boards, only 14% of respondents said that their board had a comprehensive digital strategy. Some 41% said they don’t think their business is disrupting their processes despite technological advancements. 

Diversity and inclusion was also identified as a factor in the lack of diversity of thought in the boardroom. Only 29% of board members felt their company focused on populating their talent pipeline with a richer mix of backgrounds and experience.

Randall S. Peterson, professor of organisational behaviour and academic director of LBS’ Leadership Institute commented: “There are some pockets of good practice in the boardroom, but largely, boards have some way to go to reach their fullest potential. And for those organisations with effective boards it will be a source of significant advantage.

“When boards view diversity as a business opportunity rather than a problem to be managed, and start to routinely have their behavioural dynamics assessed, they will create improved and sustainable value for their business.”

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