When considering a board appointment, Tanuja Dehne looks for a board that promotes a strong culture and a company where she can have an impact on the business, one that focuses on more than just the bottom line.
"It's the recognition and awareness that culture matters, your people matter, that other stakeholders matter," Dehne stresses.
As a corporate attorney and a former chief administrative officer for NRG Energy, Inc., as well as a young woman of color, she knows her value in the boardroom. To attract directors like Dehne--as it is with many of the tech-savvy, engaged directors organizations want and need--board members must drive their companies to promote their values and make clear the impact a new director can have on the business and society at large.
Board positions at public companies are sought after, but finding the most dynamic directors, those with digital and disruption know-how, can be a challenge, especially if a company is looking to bring on younger directors.
Directors say diversity of age is important to achieving diversity of thought, according to PwC's Board Composition: Consider the value of younger directors on your board. In fact, they rated age diversity as more important than any other element of diversity, including gender and race.
However, only 6% of board seats are occupied by individuals who are under the age of 50. Of the S&P 500, only 43% (217 companies) have a younger director and for 50 of those companies, the younger director is also the CEO.
Many next-generation directors look to a company's stance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Boards should put their positions on the topic front and center to woo the best talent.
This is another area that gets Dehne's attention, the issue of climate change and how boards are addressing the topic.
"What excites me is the growing acknowledgment that the disruption caused by climate change can actually bring about transformative opportunities for companies and their stakeholders to thrive in the long term," says Dehne, who sits on two public boards and is also a senior adviser for The B Team, a nongovernmental organization focused on mobilizing global leaders to drive a better way of doing business for the wellbeing of people and the planet.
What do you want?
"For a certain candidate pool, partly for this next generation, it is competitive," says Julie Daum, managing partner for board services at Spencer Stuart, adding that they pick and choose...