5 Barriers to advancing diversity, inclusion, and equity within boards

Achieving gender equality will require board members to be willing to overcome obstacles, constantly cooperate, and continuously build a more inclusive community. So, what are the barriers to advancing diversity on the board?

Diversity and inclusion in the board of directors

There is now a worldwide drive to achieve gender diversity in all areas. The board of directors is not an exception. The study showed that if women are present in senior management, then indicators such as the reputation of the institution, the development of the human capital of the organization, the conditions for occupational safety and health, the organization’s involvement in charity, and risk management processes improve and increase, there is more transparent reporting and, in general, improvement of corporate governance practices. In addition, women are very attentive to the climate within the company. They monitor how satisfied the staff is with their work. They can discern/recognize talents and reduce staff turnover by retaining those in high demand. Women have a unique approach and can nurture talents. Thus, if women are represented on a company’s board of directors, then that company’s reputation will improve.

In general, the study’s findings suggest that gender diversity, that is, the presence of both women and men in the company’s top management, harmonizes, balances, and improves the entire organization’s performance.

Common barriers to advancing diversity on the board

Most often, the path of women to the board of directors lies through the acquisition of experience in leadership positions in the company’s executive bodies. So, a woman acquires a certain experience and authority necessary for passing to the top management. But to reach the head of the company’s executive bodies, it is required to overcome some unspoken barriers present in our society for women. The 5 most common barriers are:

  1. Firstly, it is a problem with building a life outside of work – this is a personal life, family relationships, and so on. A woman has many responsibilities, including raising children, caring for relatives, and caring for the house. It is often difficult for a woman to combine all these responsibilities, not to lose her image in the eyes of others, and at the same time maintain her career growth. 
  2. Another barrier is that not everyone considers that a woman while raising children, misses some time and lags behind her male peers in gaining experience and career growth. And she has to catch up with them and put in 2 times more effort. There are such constraining factors as traditional conservative views on a woman’s role – judgments about how much she can be a leader in business or politics.
  3. Today, there is already a fairly large layer of women who have built a good career and occupy high positions but are alone in their personal lives. It suggests that they consciously or unconsciously remove barriers in the form of their personal lives because they will have to take breaks for decrees and fall behind, and no one will enter into a position.
  4. Women are more emotional and cope worse with the role of leaders. Most often, women leaders are women who have come a long way and are very self-disciplined people. And when they occupy high positions, in most cases, it means that they have great managerial experience and are psychologically balanced and stable.
  5. Business is another matter. Several other principles are already at play here – market ones. And here, such a tough measure as introducing a 30% quota, including the study results, is somewhat premature.