Board Diversity – Implications and Discussion

A number of studies have demonstrated that greater diversity in the boardroom and organisations will improve business outcomes. However, despite efforts, progress in increasing board diversity has been slow. 

By Karen Loon IDP-C and IDN Board Member

With the growing focus by stakeholders on more board and organisational diversity, is it time for us to #ChooseToChallenge and do things differently?  What is holding progress back, what is the role of boards in moving the dial, and what can we do differently?

IDN members participated in a webinar in March 2021 where they shared their perspectives on board diversity.  Liselotte Engstam IDP-C and IDN Board Member, facilitated the session.

Setting the Scene

Karen Loon IDP-C and IDN Board Member, gave an overview and shared her perspectives on increasing board diversity, highlighting that it is a wicked problem that is not easily resolved.

Although discussion on increasing the diversity of boards started with a focus on gender, it has now broadened beyond demographics to diversity of thought and experience, and its impact on innovation.  Further, stakeholders’ expectations, particularly investors, due to the increased focus on sustainability.

As a result, various governments, regulators and advocacy groups have released regulations and guidelines to support increasing the pipeline of available diverse candidates for boards. These include implementing quotas or targets and encouraging boards to have more targeted and independent board renewal processes.

Whilst the number of women on boards globally has increased to 16.9% in 2018, up 1.9% from 2016, there is still some way to go, and progress has been slow and inconsistent.

Understanding the different viewpoints on why having board diversity is important requires one to understand various organisational and personal motivators.  Some focus on the business case for diversity, whereas others concentrate on the social case (the “right thing to do”).

Much of the academic and business research to date has centred on the business case for greater board diversity. In particular, it has sought to demonstrate a correlation between board diversity (principally gender) and greater financial performance. This includes a broad range of areas, including financial position/performance, public disclosure, socially responsible behaviours, firm decisions, philanthropy, reputation, and innovation.[1].   In 2020, a study in Australia by Curtin University took this a step further and found a causal link between greater numbers of women on boards and in leadership and better financial performance.

Other recent research has explored areas including:

One question Karen raised is if the business case for greater board diversity is clear:  Why don’t we see boards increase their diversity more quickly?  Could there be other “elephants in the room” at play holding change back?  And could it be time to look at things differently, recognising that board work is both logical/technical and illogical/emotional?

On board dynamics, she noted that a board is a team, but it is only as good as the collective of the board and what they bring to it, both conscious and unconscious.  Further, board work is emotional, as discussed in IDN’s webinar, Fit for Generations: How to Create & Lead a Family Business Board.

Another angle is: Should we view increasing board diversity as part of a broader organisation or cultural change initiative, as Professor Michael Jarrett suggested in his March 2021 INSEAD Knowledge article?

And if this is the case: Should boards themselves be more reflective to understand why there may be ambivalence for change and assess what needs to be done.  Is there a greater opportunity to share views on boardroom dynamics and the unsaid in a safe space?

Member perspectives

IDN members had the opportunity to share their views on what board members can do to increase board diversity.  Key highlights included:

  • Importance of the role of the chair – The role of the chair in the boardroom at the start to ensure all voices are heard is paramount as he/she sets the tone for acceptance of the importance of board diversity and the boardroom culture. Having a culture of being open to listening to different perspectives and having processes that draw these out includes inviting everyone’s opinion, respecting different viewpoints, ensuring no one dominates the discussion, and being very open-minded and respectful.
  • Role of the nominating committee – The role of the nominating committee to support board renewal is essential. Nominating committees have a responsibility to ensure that the list of candidates they start with is representative.
  • Valuing diversity of perspectives, thought and contributions – Diversity should not be viewed as a box ticking exercise. True diversity is diversity of perspectives, thought and contributions in the boardroom, in addition to demographic diversity.  Having more international board directors can support this.  It is equally important for boards to ensure that there is diversity in their organisations, not just the boardroom and to ensure that it is pushed down.
  • How can we move the dial? – Some participants were supportive of quotas and having the “power of three” as they felt it improved the quality of boardroom discussions. Whilst there has been a lot of awareness-building on the importance of board diversity, more can be done.


To find out more, read our IDN member views:


[1] For example, refer to the overviews of recent research by Kagzi and Guha (2018) at, and Salma and Qian (2021) at


INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) – An INSEAD Global Club of International Board Directors

Our Mission is to foster excellent Corporate Governance through networking, communication and self-improvement. IDN has 1,500 members from 80 countries, all Alumni from different INSEAD graduations as MBA, EMBA, GEMBA, and IDP-C. We meet in live IDN webinars and meet-ups arranged by our IDN Ambassadors based in 25 countries. Our IDN website holds valuable corporate governance knowledge in our IDN blog, and we share insights also to our LinkedIn and Twitter  followers. We highlight our member through quarterly sharing of their new board appointments, and once a year we give out IDN Awards to prominent board accomplishments. We provide a peer-to-peer mentoring and board vacancy service and we come together two times per year at the INSEAD Directors Forum arranged by ICGC. We also engage with ICGC on joint research.


INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre (“ICGC”)

Established in 2010, the INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre (ICGC) has been actively engaged in making a distinctive contribution to the knowledge and practice of corporate governance. The ICGC harnesses faculty expertise across multiple disciplines to teach and research on the challenges of boards of directors in an international context and to foster a global dialogue on governance issues with the ultimate goal to develop boards for high-performance governance. Visit ICGC website:

71 board appointments for INSEAD Directors Network members

7 April 2021

Members Board & Corporate Governance Positions Announcement Q1 2021

INSEAD’s International Directors Network, IDN is proudly sharing the recent appointments up to end of February 2021 of board and corporate governance positions of our members, truly recognising our members and the strength of our IDN network.

IDN members have been appointed to 71 new board positions in 20 countries, summing up to 397 position announcements since 2017.

As a member of IDN, the network of INSEAD International Board Directors, (full membership is open to all INSEAD Alumni with appropriate directorship experience and is automatic for Certified Directors (IDP-C) from INSEAD’s International Directors Program (IDP)), you can be truly proud of your network!

You will find the IDN members with new board positions below.  Why don’t you help share our network’s achievement via Linkedin, as well as also position yourself and your membership of a vibrant network via this Linkedin post.

And take the time to connect with your fellow IDN members at LinkedIn and expand your board contacts by clicking their names below and connecting with them!

To date, IDP has been completed by 1,378 IDP and IDPB participants, with 1062 certified IDP-C/ IDBP-C directors, and our International Board Network IDN of INSEAD Alumni of 1,503 members.

IDN works closely with INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre, which undertakes cutting-edge research and teaching tailored to the needs of boards and international directors.  The Centre fosters a global dialogue on the challenges of corporate governance and leadership in an international context.

INSEAD Directors’ Network – Members New Board & Corporate Governance Positions

IDN members – Certified IDP-C Board Directors

Xavier Bedoret – November & December 2020 – Chairman of the Board of International Trade S.A. – International trade financing (Private, HQ Brussels) & Chairman of the Board of Cenergy Holdings S.A., Steel (Listed, HQ Brussels)
Sanjeesh Bera – December 2020 – Member of the Board of Directors at Teevra Edutech Pvt Ltd (Private, HQ India)
Carin Beumer – October 2020 – Board member at Mercy Corps (NGO, HQ The Netherlands)
Robert Bolier – January 2021- CEO and Board member at Sustainable Forestry Investments (SFI) BV (Private, HQ The Netherlands)
Bas Boots – December 2020 – Member of the Supervisory Board at Limgroup BV (Private, HQ The Netherlands)
Roberta Casali – May 2020 – Chairperson of Tages Capital Sgr (Private, HQ Italy)
Farid Chedid – February 2021 – Chairman and CEO at Ascoma AC (Private, HQ Monaco)
Smit Crouse – November 2020 – Non Executive Board Director at Motus Holdings Limited (Listed, HQ South Africa)
Pierre Dejoux – March 2020 – Non Executive Board Director at Energiency (Private, HQ France)
Lale Develioğlu – December 2020 – Independent Board Director at Anadolu Efes (Listed, HQ Turkey)
Magali Depras – October 2020 – Non-Executive Board Director at Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) (Not-for-profit, Ottawa, Canada)
Judith Eden – October 2020, Committee Chair at Pension Insurance Corporation (Private, HQ United Kingdom)
Fabio Mondini de Focatiis – September 2020, Board member at Barberinos (Private, HQ Italy)
Dominic Gaillard – January 2021 – Chairman (6 years) at Vontobel Asset Management AG – Group company -(Private, HQ Switzerland), Chairman (10 years) Vontobel Asset Management SA – Group company – (Private, HQ Luxembourg), Board Member at Vontobel Asset Management Pte Ltd – Group company (Private, HQ Singapore), Chairman (4 years) at Vontobel Fonds Services AG – Group Company (Private, HQ Switzerland)
Helen Gillies – January 2021 – Non Executive Director at Aurelia Metals Limited (Listed, HQ Australia)
Peter Hinder – February 2021- Chairman & CEO at Abifor AG (Private, HQ Switzerland)
Saskia Kunst – February 2021 – Chairman Supervisory Board at Energy Transition Fund Rotterdam BV (Public fund, HQ The Netherlands)
Virginie Lagrange – October 2020 –  Non Executive Director Board Member, Chairwoman of the Audit Committee, member of the Risk Committee, member of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee at Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SE (Private, HQ Luxembourg)
Karen Loon – August 2020 & January 2021 – Chair, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Singapore Overseas Regional Council (Professional Organisation, Singapore) & Director at INSEAD Directors Club Ltd (Private Ltd, HQ Singapore)
Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman – July 2020 & February 2021-  Non-Executive Member of the Governing Board at Renaissance Development Forum (RDF) (NGO, HQ Nigeria) & Non Executive Member of the Governing Council at West African Thoelogical Seminary (WATS), (Private, HQ Nigeria)
Dominic Nixon – August 2020 – Director at INSEAD Directors Club Ltd (Private Ltd, HQ Singapore)
Marina Niforos – January 2021 -NED, Chair Nomination Committee, member Investment and Risk Committees, mandate renewal until 2025 at Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations (Private, HQ Greece)  & Advisory Board member at Sovereign Investment Fund & Urban Impact Ventures, (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Gbenga Oyebode – December 2020 – Chairman and Non-Executive Director of the Board at PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc (Public, HQ Nigeria)
Astrid Pieron – January 2021- Non-Executive Board Director at Herstal Group (Private, HQ Belgium)
Helen Pitcher OBE – February 2021 – Chairman at INSEAD Directors Club Ltd (Private Ltd, HQ Singapore)
Mary Sue Rogers – October 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Inclusiv Education Pty Ltd (HQ Australia)
Annemieke Roobeek – October 2020 – Non-Executive Board Director at ENECO (Private, HQ The Netherlands)
Raymond Schadeck – September 2020 – Chairman of the Board of Regents of Sacred Heart University (Private, HQ Luxembourg) & Chairman of Université dans la Nature – Montréal (Quebec) (Private, HQ Canada)
Christiane Schloderer – December 2020 – Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees at German International School (Non-profit, HQ Abu Dhabi, UAE)
Jeff Scott – February 2021 – Director at INSEAD Directors Club Ltd (Private Ltd, HQ Singapore)
Sophie Servaty – October 2020 – Non- Executive Board Director at Les Cliniques Universitaires de Saint Luc (Private, HQ Belgium) & Chairman of the Audit Committee at Les Cliniques Universitaires de Saint-Luc (Private, HQ Belgium)
James Singh – January 2021 – Non-executive Director at 1020 Capital; 1020 Multistrategy Fund (Private, HQ Hongkong)
Charles Spaan – September 2020 –  Member of the Advisory Board at Lender & Spender (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Nicoline Spruijt – January 2020 – Non Executive Director at Palais Coudenberg, Belgium (Not-for-Profit, HQ Belgium)
Marcia de Wachter – September 2020 – Chair of the Board of Directors of MeDirectBank  (Private, HQ Malta)
Anna Zanardi – Beaconforce Srl, Italy, Innovation Start Up (Private, HQ Italy)

Carole Wintersdorff – November 2020 – Non Executive Independent Director at AMR Action Fund GP Sarl (Unlisted, HQ Luxembourg)

IDN Members – Board Directors

Emmanuele Attout – January 2021 – Non-Executive Director at AG Insurance (Private, HQ Belgium)
Cedric Brusselmans – February 2021 – Chairman at Chapter Zero Brussels (NGO, HQ Belgium)
Thomas Burkhalter – October 2020 & January 2021- Chairman at (Private, HQ, Switzerland) & Chairman at education4future GmbH (Private, HQ, Switzerland)
David Buser – October 2020 – Board Director at Canveo Limited (Private, HQ United Kingdom)
Dr Antonio Dottore – February 2021 – Non-executive Director at CRC Longevity (CRC = Co-Operative Research Centre), (NGO, HQ Australia)
Wu Gang – October 2020 – Non-executive Director at IG Group Holdings plc (Listed, HQ United Kingdom)
Ludovic Gaude – November 2020 – Chairman at Robart (Private, HQ Austria)
Rob Goudswaard – November 2020 & January 2021 – Non Executive Director at Lawson Grains Macquarie Bank Agriculture Fund (Private, HQ Sydney Australia) & Non-executive Director at Cashrewards Ltd (Listed, Australia)
Joop Heijenrath – February 2021 – Chairman at Yource (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Grant Latimer – November 2020 – Director, Board Member at Proton Products International (Private, HQ United Kingdom)
Marco Montefiori – October 2020- Trustee Member of HR Committee, BFNY (Non for Profit, HQ United States) & Trustee Member of Finance Committee, BFNY (Non for Profit, HQ United States)
Oyekunle Osilaja – January 2020 – Non-Executive Board Director at UPDC Plc (Listed, HQ Nigeria) & January 2019 Non-Executive Director, Landmark Africa Ltd (Private, Nigeria)
Michel Rzonzef – (September 2019) – Non-executive Director at SGI (Engineering and Consulting), (Private, HQ Luxembourg)
Joshua C.K. Siow – February 2021- Independent Board Director at AEI Corporation Limited (Listed, HQ Singapore)
Jim Strang – January 2021 –  Independent Non-Executive Director at Business Growth Fund plc, Private, London, UK
Jan-Paul van Term – November 2020 – Supervisory Board Member at TAUW Group, (Private, HQ The Netherlands)
Johan Vermeiren – October 2020 – Non Executive Director at Syntegro (Private, HQ Belgium)
Frank Vogt – January 2021 – Supervisory Board Member at Dock Foundation, member Audit Committee (Public, Netherlands) & Non-Executive Board Member at Die Keure Publishing & Printing, Digital Focus (Private, Belgium)

Previous announcements and more information

Previous board position announcements by shared by IDN;
December 2020 September 2020 March 2020 October 2019 July 2019  February 2019  November 2018 July 2018 April 2018  January 2018   October 2017

For organisations interested in partnering with IDN, please contact IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE, at [email protected]

On Behalf of the INSEAD International Directors’ Network Board,





Helen Wiseman, 
IDP-C, IDN & NAA Australia Board Member,
NED at multiple companies
[email protected]

For more information about :

How to become a partner of IDN, contact our President, Helen Pitcher here
INSEAD Directors’ Network, click here.
INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre here.

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