Arguments for diversity around the board table emanate from the intrinsic Catholic commitment to social justice, as well as the core principles of equity and fairness. Boards should aim to reflect a mix of personal attributes in their composition. Research indicates that boards consisting of people of the same age, gender, cultural background, professional qualifications and/or experience, or of a similar mindset generally achieve lower performance than boards in which there is greater diversity among members. Boards characterised by lower levels of diversity risk succumbing to the cognitive bias known as ‘group think’ and the escalated risks that this pitfall may present for the school. Diverse boards have also been shown to increase staff retention and engagement, promote a better understanding of an organisation’s stakeholders and drive innovation.
The current dominant discourse suggests that board demographics need to be reflective of the organisation’s stakeholder groups. In the case of schools, this means the profile of the board reflecting that of the parents, students, staff and community the school serves. This is very different to being comprised of these stakeholder groups.
Diverse boards also send an important message about the values of an organisation and the society it wishes to create. There has been a significant focus on the representation of women on boards for many years, which recognises the imbalance of female participation in the workforce, particularly in senior roles. Much progress has been made in this regard; however, there is also increasing focus on other aspects of diversity, such as the under representation of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Loreto Ministries works closely with school board chairs to ensure that directors are selected from both within and beyond each Loreto school community. Loreto schools benefit significantly from the immense goodwill, generosity, and expertise of school board chairs and board directors. Each director brings a particular skill set, suite of professional experiences, and varying perspectives to the board table. This diversity supports multiple approaches to processing information and solving problems focused on a shared purpose.