Three Fresh Approaches to Recruiting a Diverse Board, Don’t Round Up the Usual Suspects

Don't Round Up the Usual SuspectsIn the movie, Casablanca, corrupt Captain Renault, ensnared in Nazi-controlled Vichy France, needs to arrest someone. Instead of hand-cuffing the hero, he turns to his inferiors and instructs them to “round up the usual suspects.”

When we hunt for diverse board members, we often round up the usual suspects. These headline-makers are recognized, respected, and busy. The results often frustrate. Why? The usual suspects are usual because everyone else already thought of them first.

You want to diversify your board. You recognize the value of inclusion both for the wisdom it brings and the positive impact it will have on your income and community building. How might you avoid the usual approach and succeed? Where might you look? Read on for three actionable recommendations and a mindset miracle bonus.

  1. Seek the Up-and-Coming. Instead of stalking the usual candidates, find people who will be the top choice in a few years. That is scout for people seeking to enhance their resumes, and new arrivals who need and want to get involved. For instance, approach your CPA, banker, lawyer, and printer. Ask them about new hires in their firms and contact lists.
  2. Ask for Advice. Don’t eliminate the usual suspects. Rather ask for their advice. See if they can point you to individuals with interest in your cause. Time your request after asking them to be your guest at a luncheon, attending their paid event, or treating them to coffee. Follow give to get below.
  3. Give to Get. It is a universal networking truth that to get you must give. How can you first help a collection of prospective board members with a need before you unveil your request? Ask. Listen. Offer. Follow-up. Intentionally, reconnect over the next three to six quarters. Repeat to grow a pool of prospects.

Bonus: Mindset Miracles. Diversity happens first inside your head. To plant the diversity seed and grow it, be curious. Step into other communities. Cross imaginary boundaries. Read on the topic. Try Waking up White. Don’t do this alone. Enlist existing board members and staff to be curious, and attend “others” meetings and explore “others” communities.

Thank you for your efforts to diversify your board and improve your organization and your community. My last post¬†discusses how to achieve greater board diversity by growing inclusion, recruiting classes, and establishing feedback loops. This post explores three ways to identify potential new board members, to build your organization’s diversity. Pick an action to begin today and contact¬†Karen for a free discovery session to explore other strategy-based, data-driven actions to catapult your income growth.

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