“My father was not looking for diversity of thought. He was looking for agreement,” writes Stephanie Sonnabend. Thus explaining her challenge in securing women for the board of Sonesta International Corporation, the publicly traded, family controlled global hotel chain of which her father was Chairman of the Board.
However, with her persistent urging, first one woman was added, then Stephanie became the second and eventually a third. Upon his passing, Stephanie helped create an even more diverse board including four women and two minorities of ten directors. Did this lead to contentious board meetings with diversity of thought contributing to gridlock and lack of action? Of course not. Rather, the new participants helped enhance strategic conversations with a wide-angle view. Board members who had been relatively silent became active participants in more dynamic and valuable conversations.
With her three perspectives as insider at Sonesta, as an independent director at Century Bank & Trust and co-founder of 2020 Women on Boards, Stephanie exemplifies the impact of being able to look at a business question from different points of view.
So when you hear the pushback that a more a diverse board means the Chair will have to spend valuable time justifying decisions rather than executing on them, offer a different perspective. A board comprised of diversity of people can offer new perspectives on forward-thinking strategy and business operations.
Read the full article here: Gender Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom: Creating a Tipping Point for Change