A governing body with a diversity of membership brings a range of perspectives and is less likely to be subject to ‘group think’. This is a situation where individuals with common values and beliefs think in similar ways, and are unable to effectively question and challenge a prevailing assumption or judgement. Having governors drawn from a range of diverse backgrounds adds considerable value to the quality of decision-making. Studies of private sector companies have also suggested that business performance is improved by having a diverse membership of company boards.
The absence of a sufficiently diverse governing body can be one area that contributes to a failure of governance, as a lack of different perspectives could lead to the executive not being sufficiently challenged.
Any board, any governing body or court should recognise diversity in all its guises, from age and ethnicity to gender and disability, because it is diversity of thought and experience that really adds to the richness of discussions.
Margaret Gibson, University of the West of Scotland lay court member
Reflecting on the diversity of the governing body
- How diverse is the governing body in respect of, for example, gender, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation and age?
- How are new members of the governing body recruited? Is recruitment simply based on contacting known individuals or is there a genuine attempt to draw from a wider pool of talent?
- Has the governing body adopted a policy and targets relating to its own diversity? Does it regularly review its policy and assess whether it targets are being met?
- Does the governing body collect equality monitoring information about its members to understand its composition in relation to protected characteristics?