By Sarah Arana-Morton, CEO, OpenCorporates
In a previous post, OpenCorporates announced its Operating Board. Firstly I am proud that we have put together an outstanding team of experts in data, technology and law to help us succeed. Secondly, I am proud of the Board’s diversity.
A majority of women sit around the table at our Board meetings. That is rare in business and even rarer for a smaller company in the data or technology space. In fact, just 13% of UK tech firms’ board members are women, and almost two-thirds of boards have no female representation at all, according to a 2018 report.
Our Board is also truly international, with members spread across four countries. But our work isn’t done. In this post, I’ll explain why diversity is an advantage for any organisation, and why I want to see our Board, and the OpenCorporates team overall, become even more diverse beyond gender.
Benefits of diversity
There is nothing tokenistic about our diversity – the women on our Board are not there to make up the numbers. It is a privilege to work alongside Julia and Alessia who are our absolute authorities on law and sustainable investment respectively, while I am the company’s CEO.
I firmly believe that the diversity of our Board brings with it different experiences and perspectives that lead to better decision-making – along with a range of other benefits that will support our goals.
The research backs this up. Studies have found that diversity benefits boards’ decisions and, in turn, a company’s performance, in a number of ways:
- Leveraging people’s expertise better
Research from the University of Pennsylvania found that diverse boards often have a more “collegial” culture, in which all members feel able to speak openly and share information during meetings leading to better decisions.
- Greater client-centricity
A more diverse company will have team members that belong to a wide range of background and world views, and will more widely reflect an organisation’s client base.
- Fostering innovation and transformation
Research into companies both before and after their C-suite became more diverse found that “firms became both more open to change and less risk-seeking” afterwards. “These organisations increasingly embraced transformation while seeking to reduce the risks associated with it”, it found.
- Make better decisions for the future of the company
A diverse board helps to avoid the danger of ‘groupthink’. An effective way for an organisation to secure long-term success and survival, and to avoid a situation where they keep doing things the way they always have done, is through ensuring diversity and free and open debate.
- Improving transparency and governance
A more diverse board whose members are open to debate and different ideas is more likely to practice good governance and to explain its decisions to the rest of the company, its investors, and the wider public. Diversity is vital to holding ourselves to account and ensuring the openness and transparency of our Board.
Our Board meetings have shown me that all of this is true. Each Board member thinks in a different way, which has been vital to helping us to plan our strategy for growth in the coming years.
Our diverse mission: next steps
But this is just the start. Building a diverse and inclusive team can be a key differentiator and will ensure we achieve our growth by attracting top talent, improving employee engagement and enhancing decision making.
There are myriad ways in which diversity exists beyond gender (e.g., LGBTQ+, age/generation, socioeconomic background, racial diversity, attitude and neurodiversity – to name a few). I recognise that we have a lot more to do to enable an even more diverse team and inclusive culture.
That’s why a commitment to diversity and inclusion is enshrined in our company values and why we’ll continue to focus on increasing diversity and improving inclusion throughout the organisation as we scale. Our focus on impact not input, combined with our remote-first approach to work, provides greater flexibility for our team members – and therefore enables us to attract a wider demographic. In addition, we’re actively building a culture where all voices are listened to – and where our value of ‘Learn and Adapt’ encourages us to hear from people who challenge the status quo by bringing different perspectives.
As CEO, I have ambitious goals for OpenCorporates – not least becoming the leader in the emerging market for transparent company data. To do that, we need diversity and inclusion at the core of our agenda. I encourage candidates from all backgrounds to consider moving into a career in technology and data – perhaps at a company at the nexus of both, like us!
Keep an eye on the vacancies on our website, or get in touch.