Diversity Award Interview with Justine Colyer, CEO of Rise Network
Last week I had the great pleasure of interviewing Justine Colyer, CEO of Rise Network, about her recent Difference Maker Diversity Award. The Difference Maker Diversity Awards highlight those who are showing exceptional leadership, courage and commitment in promoting diversity to achieve better governance outcomes for their organisation and for society.
After completing the Emerging Leaders in Governance Program this year, I was already convinced about the great benefits Board diversity can provide. This belief was further embedded by Justine’s insights about the successes of diversity.
I asked Justine to share some of the practical strategies she uses to promote diversity on Boards. Justine explained –
1. Different hats – Boards and leadership teams will exist in an echo chamber if they only hang out with their own people. To make optimal decisions and move forward successfully, it is important to involve not just your strongest champions but also your biggest sceptics in decision making.
2. Get the basics – Diversity on Boards can only reach its full potential if the whole Board has a shared vision about what the Board should look like. That is, the entire Board needs to ensure that whatever their background, they have the basic legal, governance and financial skills to understand and fulfil their responsibilities. If diverse members feel less capable than, or are seen as less capable by, other Board members, their valuable diverse view can be diminished. Therefore it is important to have a skills matrix that everyone meets. And this needs to be supported by extra training or mentoring for those who need it.
3. Have a good Chair – Ensure your Board has an exceptional Chair with extraordinary facilitation skills. The Chair can allow for diverse backgrounds, understandings and personalities and get the best knowledge out of all Board members by ensuring all voices are heard.
Secondly, I asked Justine to share the benefits gained from diversity on Boards. She said that the best decisions are made by utilising the maximum amount of information, and therefore the best decisions are informed by multiple viewpoints. Justine credits better decisions to diversity and feeling comfortable with the richness brought from divergent viewpoints. Justine also finds great personal benefits from diverse Boards. The diversity means that members are exposed to leaders in different fields and therefore each member grows their skills by learning from one another.
Justine continues to champion diversity on Boards in many forms – for example by age (both young and old), gender, cultural background, regional perspective, LGBTQIA, personality and sectors. Congratulations to Justine for being a very worthy recipient of the Difference Maker Diversity Award.
Author: Erica Lampropoulos
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