Are Boards Actually Limiting the Ultimate Success of Brands?


Mid-and-large-sized companies often take heat for not being more agile in their ability to pivot or change directions when there are market shifts. Excuses like “too big” or “there are too many moving parts” or “they’re all the same” are regularly heard.

There’s truth in that and it could also be a result of the lack of diversity at the top—the board. As you know, when I talk about diversity, I am referencing more than just the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. I am also referencing the diversity of thought and professional experience.

In doing research for my INSIDE OUT project, it quickly became evident that there were patterns or unsaid criteria for the professionals that serve at the top. I also began to hear about the coveted “lists” or the list recycling that is done by executive search firms who are often hired to find “viable and unexpected prospects”—beyond the good ‘ole boys’ network. But usually, only end up producing the same ‘ole list for every available position.

This means that companies are being run by the same people across industries with similar experience—no wonder there is little ability or maybe it’s a willingness to shift on an as-needed basis.

I was talking to a professional "in my network who went through the entire process including giving a presentation and meeting with the nominating chair. She found out that she wasn’t selected because she included music in her presentation. No one else had done that and so she was different, and they weren’t ready for “that much diversity.” WOW really?!?!

To grow as a person, to grow as a brand, it means you will need to step outside of your comfort zone at some point to stay relevant in the market. To make the best decisions for the brand and the future of the company, you may need to think differently and take a different direction than what has “always been done before.” In fact, that belief has been the death of many companies—I’m sure you could share multiple stories.

Now, let me be clear. I am NOT saying that hands-on experience isn’t valid from one company to another. It is! Often, it is vital to learn from another’s failures or challenges, so you don’t make the same mistakes. All I’m encouraging is the openness to a different perspective could produce a better approach and better results. To quote Gene in the new mission scene in Apollo 13, "I don't care what it was designed to do, I care about what it can do."

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