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
A governing body with a diversity of membership 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, and reduces the risk of ‘group think’.
Studies of private sector companies have also suggested that business performance is improved by having a diverse membership of company boards.
Governors need to give careful attention to the composition of the governing body, ensuring the membership is sufficiently diverse to allow discussion and decisions to be informed and tested by governors, bringing different perspectives and experiences.
The absence of a sufficiently diverse governing body is one reason for a failure of governance, including the lack of a governing body’s ability to exercise effective oversight or challenge of the executive.
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