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It’s a small sample, but an interesting study just landed in my inbox. Executive search firm CTPartners (formerly known as, ahem, Christian & Timbers) looked at the board make-up of ten technology companies in the U.S. and ten in Europe. (It specifically looked at “convergence” companies—those melding telecom, media and technology such as Google, AT&T and News Corp.—but for our purposes they’re technology firms.) Just 11 percent of the U.S. company boards had international members compared to 33 percent of European boards.
I’m inundated with studies and press releases about how there’s not enough gender and race diversity on public company boards. And it’s true. But in an increasingly global workplace, regional diversity on boards is just as important.
To get a sense of how international board member make-up looks in the broader market, I turned to another study, “The Changing Profile of Directors: Spencer Stuart Board Index 2006.” As you’d expect, a bigger sample provides better results: 45% of the largest 200 companies in the S&P500 have at least one non-U.S. director. Still, it’s surprising to me that a majority of these large companies don’t. In addition, most of these international directors are from Western countries similar in many ways to the U.S.—the U.K., Canada, Germany, and Australia. Just 5% of international directors, for instance, can claim India as a country of origin. As these emerging markets become more and more important, so will board members from these places.
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