For a long time, the topic of gender diversity on Boards of Directors has rightfully been a hot discussion point, with MPs and Government committed to raising the number of women holding executive Board positions by 2020. Industry experts and business owners are realising that for companies to survive and prosper, they need to include a range of voices and perspectives at the top, but with the average age of Board members being 63, where does the voice of the younger generation fit in?
It is predicted that by 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the Global workforce. By just five years later they will be 75% of our workforce, and they are already the generation with the strongest buying power. With statistics like these, why are Boards not seeking to appoint this influential generation?
Arguably, Boards normally choose their members for the business expertise and knowledge gained from being in various positions over the years. Clearly, a 25 year old is unlikely to have amassed the same experiences as a 58 year old. However, what they lack in experience, they can make up for in being both the majority share of the target market for many businesses and being fully representational of the majority of employees the company will be seeking to recruit, train and retain for future succession planning.
In essence, having a millennial Board member gives a voice to the people who will one day be managing the operational aspects of businesses as Directors and CEOs. This could successfully help to manage risk and increase the sustainability and successful perpetuation of the business for years to come as a diverse Board would see and pre-empt cultural and socio-economic changes and put in place strategies to overcome these.
Another strong argument for welcoming these ‘green’ Board members to the table is that they are the first generation to be wholly ‘digital natives’. They are completely technologically competent and conversant. With the developments in artificial intelligence companies need to be tapping into this to be able to adapt and respond to changes in consumer habits. The Gig Economy is a well-documented phenomenon already, and Board directors need to understand that as a whole, this generation does not aspire to hold down the same 9-5 desk job for the rest of their lives. In addition, they don’t subscribe to the notion of presenteeism, being present in the office at all times, is the best way to measure productivity, value or achievements.
The move towards a more remote, flexible, and digital way of working will present Boards with a whole new set of challenges, for which their millennial counterparts could hold a myriad of solutions. To survive, businesses should be re-evaluating what makes a valuable Board member, and the answers may not lie in the stereotypical grey-haired executives we see so often within the pages of annual reports.
Pam Loch, Managing Director and Keziah Harding, HR Consultant (also a Millennial), of HR Advise Me, part of the Loch Associates Group, providing HR and employee support t.o businesses