KAPILA ANAND, DIRECTOR: WomenCorporateDirectors, Extender! Stay America, ESH Hospitality and Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc.
Board diversity has been on the minds of many nominating and governance (N&G) committees, but the last year has brought a new level of urgency to the topic. Investor and other stakeholder interest, proxy advisory firm commentary and the spotlight on cultural issues (from #MeToo to gender pay parity) have certainly contributed to this heightened focus. But, concurrently, directors are finding that the complexity we are facing today requires the kind of problem solving enabled by a diversity of thought around the boardroom table. N&G committees play such a key role in aligning board composition with business strategy: identifying board directors with relevant backgrounds, experiences, industry knowledge and more. So, as urgency around the topic has increased, WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD), with KPMG, recently launched a roundtable designed to explore the slow pace of change in boardroom diversity, exploring both the barriers limiting progress as well as possible solutions to this challenge.
Many of us, as N&G chairs, can relate to the fact that it is not easy to easily access directors who both have the skills aligned with board matrix gaps while also bringing diversity of thought. Advocates for gender and ethnic diversity have just started to work together in their aligned missions, and accessing historically non-traditional board candidates even with the help of a search professional can stretch out the process. While other board committees (e.g. audit or compensation) have access to forums that generate leading practices, N&G committees have few such diversity focused peer-to-peer exchange forums that capture and distribute the resulting lessons learned. The WCD N&G roundtable is focused on filling this gap by convening relevant peer exchanges that inform refreshment/assessment practices and also compiling centralized tools for N&G committees, including diverse director databases. The time is right, and if N&G chairs come together, we can make a difference in boardrooms--starting in the U.S., but ultimately around the world.
Kapila Anand served in a variety of leadership roles at KPMG LLP including as an SEC audit partner, KPMG board member, Partner in charge of Public Policy Initiatives, and the National segment leader for Travel, Leisure and Hospitality serving large global clients.
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