Topics: Board of directors, Corporate governance, Corporation Pages: 16 (4768 words) Published: December 20, 2012

Embracing Corporate
and Boardroom Diversity


n today’s globally inter-connected world, companies are finding that having a diverse board of directors is as critical to business strategy as revenue and productivity goals. It’s not just a gesture–it’s smart business. But embracing diversity means more than meeting a quota or hanging a plaque promoting diversity values in the halls of corporate headquarters. Diversity must be integrated throughout the organization from the ground up– starting with the hiring process and employee orientation to employee retention and customer and vendor relations.

We now think of diversity as stretching beyond the traditional notions of gender, age, nationality, and race to include a broader range of thoughts, perspectives, and competencies. And nominating committees are examining the diversity of their boards with a more critical eye: What are existing members’ backgrounds and skills and how do they enhance the value of the company? What skill areas are lacking that might be met by new members? Would a more diverse group enhance the company’s performance?

At Heidrick & Struggles, we understand the power of diversity to drive results but are mindful of the potential risks, so we welcomed the opportunity to work with Corporate Board Member on this inaugural special supplement on board diversity. For more than 50 years, organizations have relied on us to help them build winning leadership teams. Our commitment to diversity is reflected in our own leadership as well as our global consulting staff and in the leadership teams they help our clients build.

In the following pages, Heidrick & Struggles’ Veronica Biggins and Ted Dysart discuss the compelling issues facing today’s directors as they strive to build best-in-class corporate boards. We’re also pleased to bring you the insights of PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund, as well as Sempra Energy executives Joyce Rowland and Shawn Farrar, who shared with us how their respective companies have integrated diversity throughout all aspects of their core business strategies in order to increase shareholder returns and foster inclusive cultures.

We hope you will find this supplement not only interesting reading, but also useful information as you grapple with similar challenges and opportunities within your own organizations.

Thomas J. Friel
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc.

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Diversity Issues Facing Today's Boards

Corporate Board Member recently spoke with Heidrick & Struggles’ Veronica Biggins, managing partner, Diversity Services Practice, and Ted Dysart, managing partner, Board of Directors Practice, Americas, concerning the issues facing directors as they broaden their definition of diversity in the boardroom. Over the past three years, Dysart has placed more than 50 executives on the boards of Fortune 500, mid-cap, and private companies. Biggins specializes in the recruitment of executive management staff and has conducted a number of board searches. She served as assistant to the President of the United States and director of Presidential personnel prior to joining Heidrick & Struggles.

What are typically the most underrepresented demographic groups on U.S. corporate boards?

What do you see as the top diversity issues your clients seek guidance on?

Veronica Biggins
Managing Partner
Diversity Services Practice,
Heidrick & Struggles

International, Inc.

Theodore L. Dysart
Managing Partner
Board of Directors Practice, Americas
Heidrick & Struggles
International, Inc.

Veronica Biggins: While there have been significant inroads in the number of women and African Americans on boards, Hispanics and Asians constitute the most underrepresented groups on...
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