The Male Pale Stale Board

Now that’s what I call an entrance it may not have endeared her to 90% of those round the table and it may have been instantly dismissed by the majority as unnecessary and perhaps even provocative, but it made me think – at the expense of missing the following exchanges, (aka banter) as I mentally marked myself against being:

  1. Male – tick
  2. Pale – she has a point I’m white and I’ve not seen the sun for months.
  3. Stale – ouch!

I know it could have been her nerves or perhaps her icebreaker on entering a room full of males (in 2018 there were just 30 women in full-time executive roles at FTSE 250 firms, down from 38 in 2017) but at that particular moment in time I was ruminating about the stale.

I don’t regard myself as stale, and like the other male, pale and stale/s in the room I had invested in that day’s Leadership workshop to avoid becoming stale!

What does your board look like?

Prior to life as The Value Innovator I worked for some very large companies in terms of turnover, employees, sites, countries; and sat in boardrooms for 20 years plus AND in all that time the average board was 81% male and pale but not necessarily stale.

But I would say that wouldn’t I – Turkeys voting for Christmas or Those in power voting to change the electoral system – it ain’t gonna happen!

So, here’s my back of the envelope 7 question Stale Test for you to (more) objectively assess the health of your boardroom – Turkeys and Politicians need not participate!

Take your own stale test 

  1. Length of time each individual has spent on the board.
  2. Relevance of their expertise to the needs / future of the business.
  3. Breadth of their experience – could be a single years’ experience repeated over and over for the last 7 years.
  4. Demonstrable willingness to learn, improve, develop, and embrace change
  5. Contribution to the business outside their functional responsibility.
  6. Effectiveness as a board member – company & sector knowledge, communication skills, wisdom and vision.
  7. Take full Cabinet responsibility for the difficult decisions as well as the popular.

There may be lots of reasons why your board has become male, pale and stale; but that need not be the case – the most effective boards are those that evolve to meet the needs of their stakeholders, employees, and customers.

Strategy doesn’t have to be complicated but it does have to be deliverable; AND irrespective of size, shape or sector the 3 most common challenges facing business leaders are how to improve: the performance of their people, the profitability of their products and the productivity of their processes, and that doesn’t have to be complicated either.

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Posted in Company Culture, The Boardroom
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