Board of Directors 2.0

Guest post by Stephanie Fleury.

When you think of a Board of Directors, the first image that comes to mind is a table surrounded by gray-haired men wearing suits and ties. However, the fact that this image is recurrent only shows that it urgently needs to be changed, for the good of the companies themselves.

The problem with this homogeneity is that it limits the development of new ideas and reduces the possibility of alignment with emerging social trends that are growing to the point of transforming behaviors and markets.

To achieve a different result, it is necessary to change the elements of the equation. Putting together seven, nine or 79 people with the same profile limits the generation of discussions and decisions capable of leading a company towards innovation – simply because the vision of a team of equals will likely be the same.

The world trend indicates that boards should be formed by people from diverse ages, genders, races, origins, specializations and experiences so that, in the deliberations room, the greatest possible number of client profiles and lines of thought are represented by their votes.

In Brazil, this new composition of boardrooms is still in the process of consolidation. In the corporate world, women have been breaking barriers and conquering C-level positions. However, there is still a lot of ground to be conquered in the boardroom, where female presence is scarce. It is estimated that women now occupy only 10% of the seats on Boards of Directors in the 100 largest companies listed on Brazil’s B3 stock exchange.

However, there are those who swim against the current. A case of great repercussion last year involved two innovative Brazilian brands: Nubank (a fintech) and Anitta (a popstar singer). When Anitta was invited to be part of the Board of Directors of the digital bank, many people swore it was just a marketing ploy. Nevertheless, the singer’s inputs were fundamental for the bank to carry out an unprecedented pre-IPO initiative: Nubank offered a free share of the company to each customer, which increased financial inclusion, generated connection, and built loyalty.

While more traditional advisors were more concerned with immediate financial returns, Anitta – who claims not to understand anything about economics, but everything about being a client –, convinced them with “out-of-the-box” arguments. The great learning that emerges is that different points of view build a company strategy that is more aligned with the needs and wants of the surrounding society and that has the power to transform it.

Finally, another profile in high demand is that of “tech savvy” board members. It has become increasingly important to have knowledge about the impact of emerging technologies on the long-term success of businesses.

Based on this reality, I made the personal decision to study to become a certified counselor through the Digital On Board course at HSM. In fact, there I clearly saw that the change is already happening: the female presence was around 30% among the students, and the focus of the course was to prepare people from different backgrounds so that they can help in the digital transformation of companies.

We are heading towards a tipping point where companies need to renew their boards and a new generation of Board Directors is getting ready to contribute.

How about you, have you ever thought of making your unique contribution to a boardroom?

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