How Equity in the Boardroom Creates a New Competitive Advantage for Companies — Jerusha Stewart

In a Boardroom Bound episode, I joined Alexander Lowry to explore how we can promote diversity in the boardroom as a competitive advantage. Recent reports show that boards that are racially diverse enable the company to perform 36% better than previously. Another incentive is that 40% of millennials base their purchasing decisions on the diversity efforts of companies. Boards need to make critical decisions for their company that satisfy both the customer’s needs and the company’s mission. With today’s media, boards are also under a lot of public scrutiny to fulfill their social responsibility duties. Those who do will find great success. Those who don’t will fall behind. But how can a company best reinvent and reinvigorate its board?

Take Your Seat began as a reaction to the murder of George Floyd. To demonstrate allyship, my co-founders David Baldwin and John Replogle each stepped down from one of their board positions to give a Black professional the opportunity to fill the spot. For my part, I grew up in Hawaii surrounded by multiple cultures and still I always felt a sense of belonging. I wanted to make sure that Take Your Seat had a similar atmosphere of inclusion. In addition, I wanted us to incorporate the themes of equity and empathy, to help people live the life they dream of.

At Take Your Seat, we like to say, “We are history in the making.” Improving diversity and inclusion is a shared, collaborative experience for both the candidate and the board. The candidate is provided with a new networking opportunity; they are stepping into a whole new level of performance, career, and service. Meanwhile, the board gains the opportunity to try different strategies, gain new knowledge, and become more comfortable with bringing in new perspectives. Moreover, as we increase the number of Black executives on boards, it creates a domino effect bringing in other professionals of color and sets diversity as a normative value of the boardroom.

As we move forward, we are going to see more and more companies become adept at building inclusivity. It is not enough to merely hire a diverse person to the board. You need to leverage their skills and talents to create that competitive advantage for your company in the marketplace. Take Your Seat is committed to assisting companies in building inclusive boards of the future. We are providing the board marketplace with educational tools will help them grow and learn. While there are several diversity workshops for the workplace, they need to be prioritized at the board level because this is where decisions are made that influence our lives — healthcare, education, wealth generation, etc. We need more diversity of voices and perspectives that are leveraged to the highest degree possible.

This is what Take Your Seat is all about — taking action and making a declaration to create equity in life and make the world a better place.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

About Jerusha Stewart: Jerusha is a mission-focused entrepreneur creating opportunities for a more equitable future. With a vast background in law, sales, public relations and marketing, Jerusha is well-versed in creating innovative problem solving initiatives and implementing successful communication strategies. Most recently, Jerusha has dedicated herself to her latest mission, Take Your Seat, a Public Benefit corporation focused on recognizing the wealth of global Black talent and accelerating inclusivity in corporate boardrooms to maximize corporate performance.

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