Good Governance: age is a board diversity issue

The more ages represented on your board, the more perspectives you can hear at your meeting and more.

by: Les Wallace, Ph.D.

I serve on two international boards and would be considered a “senior” member of each in both age and experience. I believe my experience is important; I’m not certain the age is. I know I’ve lived long enough to get a whopping lot of experience under my leadership belt. But I also know I’m recruiting and encouraging younger people to step up to governance leadership who, despite fewer years of experience, have loads of competencies and seasoning.

While the credit union movement is in active discussion about the need to reach out to young people to become members, the governance discussion in both credit unions and the private sector is about reducing the average age of a board. Suddenly age becomes a diversity issue.

Diversity grew up in an era of respecting differences and viewpoints along the dimensions of race, ethnicity and gender. It has since matured more broadly to include sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, other ideologies and age. While many still see diversity as an equal rights issue, most leadership approaches see it as an intellectual capital issue: The greater the number of perspectives that can be brought to bear on the success of an enterprise, the better.

Why should a broad age mix be important for your board? Let’s consider just a few reasons.

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