Why Your Organization Needs Board Members with Diverse Skills

Board diversity: If your member organization has a board of directors, you have no doubt heard this term. At this point, nearly everyone understands and acknowledges the importance of gender and cultural diversity on a board of directors. But what about a diversity of skills?

To determine if you have enough skills diversity on your organization’s board of directors, ask yourselves these questions:

  • Does our board of directors consist of individuals with a variety of backgrounds – professional and cultural?
  • Does our board of directors accurately reflect our current membership base?
  • Does our board of directors generally agree on most everything or do we regularly take part in respectful debates?
  • Does our board of directors adapt easily to changes or is it a struggle to make change happen?
  • Does our board of directors accurately reflect and represent the employees of our organization?
  • What does the makeup of our board of directors say about our organization’s reputation and brand?

If your organization’s board of directors is relatively homogenous, doesn’t reflect your membership or employees and you often find yourselves looking for outside expertise in specific areas (i.e. IT, human resources, marketing, etc.), it may be time to focus on adding some skills diversity to your board of directors.

A great visual tool to help determine any skills gaps in your board of directors is the skills matrix.

Typically used by company teams to identify existing abilities and knowledge areas, a skills matrix is also helpful in determining the previously untapped skill sets of current board members.

A sample skills matrix might look something like this:

Skills Matrix

When you work with your current board of directors to create a skills matrix, you may discover that you haven’t been taking advantage of the finance skills of Robert Jones, for example.

You may also discover that your board lacks legal expertise and experience. From there, you can prioritize adding a board member with a legal background to the team.

Your skills matrix should be tailored to your board of directors and the needs of your organization. While one board may benefit from additional experience within a particular industry, another board may be in need of someone with in-depth knowledge of a targeted geographic area, for example.

Your member organization will often face difficult and complex issues and having a board with a diverse skill set can help in assessing risks, anticipating challenges and identifying opportunities.

If your board is facing a skills gap, look to your members when it’s time to add to the team. We’ve got more information on how to get your members to run for board of directors right here.

For more information on identifying potential skills gaps on your board of directors or creating a skills matrix, contact us any time. We’re here to help.