When it comes to romance it’s sometimes said that opposites attract, but too often in business this isn’t the case.
Our natural impulse can be to favour those in our own image. When taking on new board members, this approach risks ending up with a group of ‘yes men’, or ‘yes women’, who all think alike.
Instead, we constantly have to push ourselves to seek out people with differing points of view. This is no mean feat, but the bottom line is this: what’s the point having someone on your board that looks at things the same way as you do?
This challenge of finding new and relevant skillsets came to the fore as we searched for two new board members at the IoD in the past couple of months. Our particular aim was to find individuals with experience in finance, digital, and organisational change, and I'm very excited by the appointment of our new colleagues Femi Bamisaiye, who is CIO at HomeServe, and Amaechi Nsofor, a Partner at Grant Thornton. They both have considerable understanding and expertise in these areas – you can read more about their backgrounds here.
I was humbled by the overwhelming response we received from IoD members about the roles. We received hundreds of very strong applications, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to put their name forward. We'll be looking for new board members on an ongoing basis, so please do apply again if you get the chance. As we all know, and certainly as I have experienced myself, when it comes to applying for new roles, perseverance is key!
I’m looking forward to our new board members bringing their abilities to bear on our work right away, with enhanced localisation one of our top priorities for the coming months. On this note, I’d like to thank Stephen Martin. Throughout his tenure, Stephen emphasised the importance of supporting our regions, and I know that as a continuing member he supports our plans to drive forward greater devolution.
Having been chair of the IoD for five months now and represented our members at various events, it has really brought home to me the strong voice, both locally and internationally, our Institute has on key business issues.
This month, I spoke at a breakfast event alongside the Australian minister for Trade, Simon Birmingham, and what struck me was the interest throughout the room in the IoD member perspective in areas such as global trade and corporate governance. These issues will only grow in importance for the UK in the coming years, and the IoD is perfectly placed to grow its presence with them, supporting and representing our membership.
In February, I also took part in a roundtable with Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking at RBS, who is leading a review launched by the Treasury on “Advancing Female Entrepreneurship in the UK.”
Women in the UK are half as likely as men to be involved in starting a business, and our discussion focussed on the barriers and support currently in place and the changes that might help. This is another issue I believe the IoD, with the network and professional development opportunities we offer, can play an important role in addressing.
It’s not good enough to just talk about diversity, we have to live it.