Boards, investors, regulators, and other stakeholders are increasingly focused on the alignment of board composition with the company’s strategy. 57% of global participants (61% in Belgium), in a recent Global BLC pulse survey, said that the second most important reason they recruit new directors is a strategic necessity to stay competitive (the number one reason was to replace a retiring director). Addressing competitive threats and business model disruption, technological innovation and digital changes, climate and ESG risks, cyber risk and global volatility requires a proactive approach to board-building and board diversity – of skills, experience, thinking, gender and race/ethnicity.

Globally, we see increased investor engagement concerning the topic of diversity – most notably in the US and UK – and, more specifically, regarding the relatively slow pace of change in boardrooms. Interestingly, 59% of global participants (72% in Belgium) of our Global BLC pulse survey, said that if they were to rebuild their board to best meet their company’s needs for today and the future, the board’s composition – including diversity of skills and backgrounds – would be moderately different from its current makeup. Where is your board?

In Belgium specifically, according to Spencer Stuart’s ‘Boards Around the World’ research[i]:

  • 70% of boards in Belgium have at least 30% female directors;
  • 35% of Belgian board members are female, though only 4% of CEOs and 5% of chairs; and
  • 31% of Belgian board members are foreign.

While the conversation about diversity may not get as much attention here in Belgium, diversity is a useful tool in terms of value creation and positioning the board strategically for the future, whether your company is listed or unlisted. For large, listed companies, in particular, awareness of the topic is increasing and the investor community is taking notice of this trend.