Putting the kids in charge

If half your board members are under 40 you're winning

Maybe it was Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist from Sweden who started it all. She told the big boys at Davos that “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” While she was referring to climate change, it seems that her passionate plea shifted something in society. We need to start paying attention to those who know that Telegram is a smartphone app and not a daily paper or a message sent during World War I.

Until now, company boards have tended to be older and male. In the past, multiple calls were made for more diversity in terms of gender and race. The Harvard Business Review consistently ran pieces on the incredible correlation between diversity and company success, but the theory just never really translated into action.

In 2018, the average age of an S&P 500 director was 63, and many were on the other side of 75. Experience and wisdom will always have an important place at the long table, but isn’t it obvious that the generations who are designing and creating the future should also have a voice with decision-making power?

Two years ago we crossed the threshold, with half the global workforce now being millennials. To celebrate this, foresighted companies like Lego, Audi and Ikea changed the rules, requiring at least 50% of their board members to be under the age of 40. The talent they lacked for this goal, was developed and nurtured. Lego and Audi saw market share increases of 7% in the last financial year; Ikea says their employee churn has dropped significantly.

It’s never been an ‘either/or’ reality, but rather an ‘and’ world. Isn’t it time that your company gets the message, and the profits?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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