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The issue of board diversity is being discussed around the world, with a current focus on gender diversity. The world is now realizing and acknowledging that diversity at all levels is an advantage and desirable. The true value of diversification is being weighed and measured in all possible areas and new research confirming the value of diversification is being published all the time.

There is increasing recognition that boards composed entirely of men from the company’s home country are at a disadvantage in a world of two genders and of global markets and supply chains. The issue for boards is to incorporate diverse perspectives while maintaining the cohesion and trust that are essential for the board to function properly.

However, some change is necessary in both the political and corporate world to increase diversity that will strengthen competitiveness and create a sustainable future in which all talents are used to the full.

We believe that this change will happen faster if diversity at the top increases. Leadership starts at board level. How leadership is exercised by the board of directors of a company sets the standard for any organisation.
With strong, properly-diversified boards to lead the way, the practice will quickly feed down through organizations and diversity will become the norm rather than the exception.

The pressure on boards to become more diversified is not going away and many boards are acknowledging that. Rather than a WHY?, it has become a HOW?

We believe we have part of the answer to HOW?

Current boards are in an excellent position to help shape future boards. As today’s leaders they can demonstrate true leadership for the benefit of all stakeholders by offering hands-on board training to suitable candidates who are in all ways board ready but who lack direct board experience. We firmly believe that the best boards do not wait to be forced to act; they actively shape and participate in the bigger picture of best practice governance.

A number of business schools and other organizations offer directorship courses. While theoretical training is good, it is not enough. Practical experience is valuable and necessary and acting as a board apprentice gives just that.

Board Apprentice is a new way for boards to take part in training new board members. The apprentice concept is tried and tested in other areas and has always worked well. Board Apprentice introduces the concept into the highest level as a tool to achieve more diversity on boards. This way not only do we further diversity but we do it in an inclusive manner.

The aim for Board Apprentice is, on an on-going basis, to find suitable apprentices from diversifying areas, to overcome the barriers put in front of them and to help them to become fully-trained and board-ready individuals.

We regard the visible diversifying areas as being:

  • Diversity
  • Experience
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Generational
  • Nationality

Who else but the boards are best placed to offer hands-on board training? Being today’s leaders they can help tomorrow’s leaders develop simply by including them in their work.
The Board Apprentice scheme offers an immediate solution, by introducing Board Apprentices into the boardrooms of companies around the world. This is a simple concept that works well in many other areas.

By providing hands-on board experience to suitable individuals, boards can help diversification at the top and move their company and country into the future by taking this small, simple step.