Hello, I'm Vic Murray. I'm here today with a dear friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Pat Bradshaw. Pat is currently the dean at the Sobey School of Business at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. But prior to that she was a professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, where we were colleagues. She has had a long-time interest in the world of diversity, the issues of diversity in non-profit organizations, with particular emphasis on diversity in the boards of directors of these kinds of organizations. It's on that subject we're going to talk to her today. Pat, thank you for doing this. I'm looking forward to our conversation. As we both know, the problem of diversity or the issue of diversity in the governance of non-profit organizations is something critics of non-profits have been concerned about for quite some time, the lack of it primarily. Before we get into this in more depth, maybe Pat you could help us by explaining a little more about what the concept of diversity actually is. Thanks Vic for inviting me to talk about diversity. It's a construct you're absolutely right that I'm very passionate about, and one that I think the voluntary sector is starting to embrace both in the general population and for boards. That construct really focuses on the idea of difference. We look at boards and, do we have a balance of composition of people that can bring different skills? So do we have diversity in terms of professional backgrounds, accountants, lawyers, service providers, clients? The diversity issue then goes to educational background and includes questions about people's background of social class. It's now evolving I think even more importantly to issues beyond personality, and those kind of factors to embrace: ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, physical ability, other aspects of ways in which the community is diverse and that we need to start to embrace and bring those perspectives into the boardroom, to celebrate it and to enrich the discussions that we have. Now let's go on to the question of why diversity is important. Why is it that non-profit boards should be concerned about how diverse they are? In a related way, why should the society in which these organizations exist also be concerned about the diversity on the boards of directors in their non-profit organizations? Diversity on boards I think is becoming recognized as important for a number of reasons. At the societal level, we understand that boards are a form of what I'd like to call loyal opposition. They're there to play that check and balance on the CEO and the activities of the organization, and they provide a really valuable and important function. What we want on those boards is that capacity to engage in loyal opposition, to bring different perspectives to bear. If everybody's similar, if there's no diversity on that board, it's really hard for society feel confident that different stakeholders are being represented, that the issues that are emerging and the trends that are engaging critical questions about the survival of the organization, about its strategic direction, are being embraced in a complex way, in a way that really allows the relevant questions and voices to be heard at the table. I think society is looking to boards to bring a more robust, and a more diligent, and a more countable lands to questions of strategy, and direction, and mission, and fiduciary responsibility. That on the societal side is important. When I bring that question that you asked about why is it important for the board itself, is we know that boards are decision-making groups, they're actually dealing with group dynamics. We now know from our years of research on groups and effective teams that effective teams have a little bit of conflict, they have a little bit of disagreement, they have the ability to bring multiple perspectives to bear. If everybody comes from a similar background, if everybody has the same history and belief system, we're not getting that creative tension in the boardroom, we're not getting that engagement with the relevant questions in a way that brings those perspectives to bear, and we're not representing off in the clients that the organization's trying to serve. Again, that celebration of diversity, that coming together of multiple perspectives that we all bring because of who we are and where we come from in the society is important. The research is definitely showing that more diverse boards are associated through statistical analysis with more effective organizations. So I think the case for diversity is very compelling and very strong. Now here's another question. How can a board itself assess whether it is adequately diverse or not? It's interesting to think about if I were on a board and have been on a board, how do we assess diversity? I think there are a number of different approaches. One approach that I've seen is the hospital actually that went out and surveyed the patients that they were serving and as patients in that hospital. They looked at the composition of the patient base and found out that they had a heavily Italian and a heavily Cantonese speaking community in their hospital. They went back to their board and said, "You know what, we don't have anybody from those communities," and started to do outreach to organizations that we're working with those communities and said, "Please help us identify members of those communities who we can put on a nominating slate for participation on our board." Other boards are doing scans of their communities externally, they're going to their funders and saying, what are your expectations. They're doing stakeholder analysis, and stakeholders are really the people that have an interest in your non-profit, and they really want to see themselves reflected as important components. Looking at the stakeholders, looking at the constituencies that are being served, allows the board to do an assessment. The other strategy that I've seen used very effectively is to actually do a matrix, and for the board to sit down, and particularly the nominating and governance committee, and do a skills matrix so down one side of the matrix would be, here are the competencies and skills, we've got accounting, we've got legal, we've got mission-related skills and capacities and then across the top to take the elements of diversity that you're interested in. That could be gendered, do we have a balance of men and women? Do we have diversity in terms of racialized communities and marginalized groups? Do we have a balance of persons with different physical abilities, etc. When you fill out that matrix, you can see where the gaps are. Then nominating committees, instead of relying on the traditional networks, we know that often non-profit boards will look around the table and go, "who do you know?" Usually we know people that are looking more like us, who have the similar background to us. So more explicitly going out to different groups, going out to different communities, going so far as to advertise in the newspaper for strategies of looking for members to form parts of the board. Sometimes they bring them on as advisory groups, for example, I know non-profits that are working with abused women and sometimes those women don't feel comfortable on the board but they're very comfortable being on an advisory group. Other times, I've seen boards bring people in and mentor them through committees until they're ready to get onto the board so that you don't just put people directly onto the board if they're not comfortable in that environment. Those are a number of ways that I've seen boards try to address that question of diversity. So far have you been doing research on diversity in boards of non-profit organizations for quite a few years now, and I was wondering what your impression is with regard to trainings? Do you see diversity increasing in North America, Canada and the US, or staying the same or not going down? Vic, I think the trends are actually quite fascinating. What intrigues me is how stable it is. You and I actually did a study of Canadian non-profit boards in 95 and I recently repeated that study and looked at the demographics of Canadian non-profit boards, and it has not changed. Well, over 40 percent of the boards are made up of women, many of the CEOs and executive directors are also women. The latest study we also included racialized minorities and people of color and the boards are 87 percent white, and I don't see that dramatically shifting. Although I think with the growing focus on diversity, I'm hoping that all these efforts that boards are making will lead gradually to improvements. It's a very similar picture in the United States, I think 86 percent of the boards are made up of people who identify as white, about seven percent are African American by background, 3.5 percent are Latino. That seems again to be a pretty stable picture that's said, not trending upward significantly or very quickly, so optimistic that things will start to improve but the picture on gender is very positive. What really excites me about that is the research that shows that boards that have a high proportion of women are actually more effective boards and that's being proven now both in the non-profit sector and in the corporate sector, so encouraging trends but pretty stable at this point. I think we both agree that many boards do seem to have considerable difficulty in attaining the levels and forms of diversity that they would wish, and I just wondered what your thoughts were on why that is, why is diversity among all the issues of governance that boards have to deal with seem to be such a problem? Vic, I don't know why it's so difficult. I think it's a combination of factors. I think one, boards are finding it challenging to find any board members, so we need so many thousands of people to sit on non-profit boards across Canada and the United States that often were grateful for anybody that will volunteer and step up and really putting attention to diversity calls on an expanded effort. It's a change and we're often resistant to change. We're comfortable with the way things are, and we want people that are like us or passionate about the mission. So we tend to go to friends and colleagues that we're comfortable and familiar with. On the other hand, I do think that these issues start to bring in questions that are bigger. You know that my research over many years has been on change and power, and I can't help but wonder whether some of these questions aren't embedded in questions of exclusion and racism and discrimination. Issues that are very hard to start to talk about and bring up stereotyping, they bring up tokenism, they bring up issues of power dynamics that often we don't want to bring into the boardroom explicitly. For me as a scholar, it's easier to talk about how are some of those dynamics that are embedded socially and systemically, starting to inform some of these questions? How can we get the training as board members that will allow us to open up those conversations to make boards more welcoming? I know we talk a lot about exclusion, but the real dynamic becomes how do we include, how do we bring in and start to make the boardroom a place where we can overcome some of those systemic barriers and welcome difference into those conversations with an understanding that some of those differences are going to be hard to manage. They're going to create some disagreement, some conflict, and with that conflict comes the opportunity for positive, innovative change, and inclusion. Right one final question, Pat. Drawing in all the work you've done on inclusion in boards, are you wondering what can you suggest to boards as some practical steps they could take to try to improve the level and kinds, forms of diversity they have in their governance process? Thank you for that question. I really feel that there are some very concrete things that boards can do. Again, it comes back to this issue for me, of inclusion. The research I've done with Chris Burdette is really looking at understanding how board members who are on the cutting edge of diversity understand approaches, very concrete specific approaches to enhancing the diversity on their boards. What we concluded after talking to board members is that there are two main approaches. One is social inclusion and the other is functional inclusion. Let me break those two down. Social inclusion is really how do you bring people with varying degrees of difference together in an environment which is filled with trust, with respect, with collegiality, with good decision-making. All those things that we want from a high performing team. We have learned that boards that are deeply committed to diversity bring social inclusion in explicitly and they do it in a number of ways. For example, they provide mentors to new board members. Sometimes if you have a young person who's joining the board for the first time, they really don't understand what their role and responsibilities are. The mentor can phone them up, can debrief them after a board meeting, can prepare them for the meeting, can help them understand the core issues and some of the political dynamics that are going on. So that would be one approach on the social side. Another would be orientations. Sometimes we hand people a binder and say, "Hey, welcome to our board." But if you really want to bring people in, feedback we heard from members of diverse communities is that they really valued a half-day training. A chance to watch the board in action before they joined, a chance to meet with others from designated groups who can help them understand what's going on the board. Really working to make sure we're not suffering from tokenism or stereotyping. For example, we know that often if you're the only person from a particular group, there's a tendency to say to that person, "Hey, what do all women think of that issue?" You can't, I couldn't speak for all women. So that's obviously another issue. We know that boards can often go away and do team building, they can do retreats, it's part of the self-assessment. They can look at and get feedback from all board members on how do you feel about being on this board and do you feel you're able to give voice to your opinions and be respected? I've just simple things. In Canada, a lot of us have summer cottages and we're really passionate about hockey. Well, I've talked to board members who don't come from Canada, they grew up in another country and immigrated here and they go, "I can't stand hearing people talk about hockey all the time. Can't you talk about cricket or soccer? Why are you always talking about your summer cottage or golf." Really trying to be sensitive to some of those social dynamics that are going on in the boardroom. Let me move then to functional inclusion, and that really is much more strategic. It's an orientation to inclusion that's very targeted in terms of board practices, policies, and approaches. Let me give you some examples of things that I've learned about boards that are really focusing on functional inclusion. One strategy is actually creating a diversity committee and tasking that board committee with the job of increasing the diversity in the board room and helping people get prepared for being on the board. Another is to build diversity into the strategic plan of the organization so that it becomes a part of what's assessed. We know that what gets measured gets done. So again, if we have some goals and targets for enhancing diversity. Another approach is I've seen good boards build the business case so they can actually go to donors and funders and saying, "This is why diversity is important in this organization. This is how we're approaching it," so that they can actually be compelling in the way they're addressing it and bring new board members in with a clear commitment to this issue. Again, the more that it gets embedded in the practices so that the board members say we're going to be accountable for this issue and we're going to hold ourselves to those plans and objectives. The more that is impacting the performance of the board. In fact, our research shows that functional inclusion and those more tactical approaches on process and policy are having huge impacts. But the story doesn't end there with social and functional inclusion, and what Chris Burdette and I found is actually there's something that comes together in a magical way when you bring functional and social inclusion together. We're calling that transformational inclusion. Boards that are dedicated enough to these questions of diversity to actually transform the way they're working through both social and functional inclusion are the boards that are having the real benefits of diversity, and boards that just simply put people in the boardroom and don't do anything to bring them into the members of diverse communities, into the conversation and into the way the board works, are actually having negative outcomes. Their performance is actually hindered. But if it's a commitment, if it's a real emphasis on doing something to create the inclusion, the magic, then something special can happen. So it's worth the effort. We've proven it statistically. We know from talking to people that there's a transformative potential in diversity and that everybody wins. One final thing is that at the end of each of our topics in this course, we like ask our students, our participants to engage in peer-to-peer discussions among themselves on issues related to the topic. So I was wondering as one parting shot, whether you could suggest a few questions that our participants might look at when they engage in your peer-to-peer discussions on diversity in non-profit organization governance. Homework, I can give the participants around the world two or three questions that I would recommend that you look at and think about. The first one would be, what's driving diversity on your board? Is it something that comes from the heart that this is a value. It's related to your mission. Is it being driven by funders? Are external stakeholders looking for you for accountability on these elements of your board composition and board dynamics. So being really thoughtful, looking out externally and looking internally at what we care about and why are we doing this? Then from there, drawing out the business case, what is the logic for embracing these issues? Because I'm thinking unless you have a deep commitment to it and you have a real understanding of why you're engaging in these issues. It's harder to make that change and it's harder to invest the energy because it's a commitment and you need to start to think about that. I would also then from there, encourage looking at a skills matrix. Where are the competencies that you're looking for, the actual concrete skills that you need in the boardroom. Where are the elements of diversity? Do you have the gender, they ethnocultural, the sexual orientation, physical ability, and do you have the range in your boardroom currently, where are the gaps and then how do you think you can move forward to address those gaps in the recruitment process? Finally, recruiting people is only part of the story. So you want to, once you have people on the board look at those practices for inclusion that I mentioned. So I would really encourage you to look at what are social inclusion practices? How do we help people feel comfortable? Are we looking at diet? Are we looking at where we hold board meetings? Are we looking at all those different ways that you can build the team? Then what are our functional inclusion practices? Is it embedded in our practices and our policies and our strategic plans? Are we measuring and holding ourselves accountable to it? Then finally, are you bringing the functional and social together for the transformational inclusion that's possible, and have you created a robust, dynamic, growing community that's committed to the ongoing benefits of diversity in such a way that you're doing governance better. So those would be the few points that I would recommend looking.