Last week, Goldman Sachs announced that they wouldn’t be granting any companies IPO certification if they don’t have at least one diverse director on their Board.
It is amazing to me what can happen when someone influential (or a business in this case) draws a line in the sand about diversity. The truth is that sometimes we need an incentive to do what’s right or best. So now we have one, thanks to Goldman Sachs. A company that takes companies public will no longer do so unless there is one member on their Board or Directors who is not a white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, male.
Food for Thought
Their criteria could be stronger, and it could go further. And, it’s a good start.
But since I’m all about seeing more, let’s dive in and see what more we can see…
- First and foremost. OMG. Consider what sitting around that table may be like for the ONE person who brings a diverse viewpoint.
This is exactly why I advocate for I before D: Doing the inclusion work, the awareness-raising work to create a climate of safety, acknowledgment and openness to hear new perspectives and ideas BEFORE you turn your sights on representation. If we don’t have that climate, diversity is just aesthetic – which can make that one spot around the table pretty unbearable and lonely.
On that note:
- “At least one diverse candidate”. Well, we are all diverse. So what I guess they mean is at least one candidate who isn’t a straight, white, able-bodied, cisgender, male. Just to be clear. One isn’t enough. One is lonely, may not equal engagement or can mean they aren’t heard. One may just be for show. One may not make a difference at all, for the above mentioned reasons.
- They are focusing on women. How convenient. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a woman and I see that we still need gender equity. But focusing on gender allows us to conveniently forget other historically disadvantaged groups: people of colour, people with disabilities, the 2SLGBTQI+ communities, to name a few. While it’s true that we could just as easily have a board with various forms of diversity, but all men. We can just as easily have an all-white Board with men and women. We have to do better.
- Back to my point in #1, one may not make much difference if the environment isn’t inclusive. Neither will two, although two is less lonely than one. Three is the magic number for change. It provides support for the “diversity” represented, while making room for diversity within that diversity. Plus, numbers add to the possibility of being heard and making a difference.
Thanks Goldman Sachs for starting the ball rolling.
As Board members come and go, maybe by 2022 you can ask for there to be 3 “diverse” directors…
What is your company doing to draw a line in the sand around D&I?
(c) Annemarie Shrouder 2020
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