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The case for greater board diversity could not be clearer. Well-managed, diverse teams are more productive, more innovative, and have higher collective intelligence than homogenous teams.

What may have worked in the past—filling open or newly created board seats almost exclusively with men—will no longer be a viable solution. Research demonstrates that there is an ample supply of “ready now” women to fill current and near-future openings on corporate boards.

Yet what matters is not just ready-now talent, but also pipeline talent. Given that companies around the world are “catching on” and adding more women to their boards, companies need to understand where high-potential talent is now in terms of aspirations for, preparation for, and perhaps even experience on boards of all types.

This report finds that:

  • A large majority of high potentials, women and men, either had served or aspired to serve on a board of some type.

  • Women and men were equally likely to aspire to board service or to have already served on a board. And there were no differences in high potentials’ aspirations for board service across Asia, Canada, Europe, and the United States.

  • Among women and men who aspired to corporate board service, men were more likely than women to have the “right” kinds of jobs—the ones that provide the leadership experience for which boards typically look.

The report also includes questions designed to help organizational leaders think more critically about the ways in which they can contribute to the development of future board directors.

This report is part of a series called The Promise of Future Leadership: Highly Talented Employees in the Pipeline, which surveys graduates of leading business schools in the Asia, Canada, Europe, and the United States with the intent of assessing their career values, goals, and expectations; the developmental opportunities afforded them; and their strategies for managing work and family life. The reports highlight the differences in women's and men's career experiences and satisfaction. Some feature perspectives from global leaders and other experts.


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Research Partners: AT&T Inc.Bloomberg, BMO Financial Group, Chevron Corporation, Credit Suisse, Dell Inc., Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, Ernst & Young, General Motors Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, KeyBank, Kimberly-Clark CorporationMcDonald’s Corporation, PPL CorporationSodexo, State Street CorporationUPS