Creating & Leveraging Diversity In The Boardroom with Amy Bottoms | Ep. 23

The conversation about board diversity generally starts and stops at gender balance. That’s been a wonderful place to start; however, we both recognise that diversity is much more diverse than just gender.

This conversation that I had with Amy Bottoms, a Principal of Catalyst Advisors in Seattle, Washington, covered the pros and cons of legislating for gender balance on boards, whether people are still interested in board diversity beyond gender balance, simple ways that a board can start creating a diverse cohort, how do the best boards build, maintain, and leverage diversity around their table; and how diverse candidates can position themselves to get on a board.

Amy brings 25 years of experience building board of directors and executive leadership teams for innovative life sciences companies.  Prior to joining Catalyst Advisors, she was an Engagement Manager at a leading global executive search firm, where she specialised in recruiting board directors, general management executives and senior commercial and technical leaders across the biopharma, healthcare IT, medical technology and healthcare services sectors. Amy began her career at Microsoft as a Corporate Researcher before entering the executive search industry in 1996 as a Research Associate.

Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

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Please Note

Amy and I recorded this before the death of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests against racism.

As I have learned, we have our significant issues in Australia, with indigenous Australians facing challenges similar to those of black Americans. This is a global problem that we all have a part in solving.

It’s not enough to be against racism, we have to be anti-racist.

I have learned that, although I can hand-on-my-heart say that I am not racist, there is a lot that I can be doing to educate myself and proactively take actions in my personal and professional life to support people of colour and other diverse individuals. I encourage you to take an audit of your own life and see if there are ways that you can be more active in your support of diverse individuals.

Part of what we can do as board members is to widen our selection pool to draw out, engage, and select diverse candidates for board positions.

I hope this conversation with Amy is received with the intention in which it was produced; to encourage and support boards to improve their diversity beyond gender, and to encourage anyone who identifies as a diverse person to pursue a board career.

This conversation was based on our personal experiences from supporting people into board roles over many years. We have found that the principles of breaking into the boardroom are universal.  However, I can appreciate that our experiences have been those of two white females. In the context of boards, that has been considered a diverse perspective. But I have a strong suspicion that these experiences are probably different to other diverse candidates. That’s why I would love to hear from you about your experiences either having broken into the boardroom, or you’re actively attempting to break into the boardroom. If you identify as a diverse board hopeful (from any background, culture, ethnicity, etc.), I want to hear from you about your experiences. Please reach out to me at lisa.cook@getonboardaustralia.com.au I would greatly appreciate hearing about your boardroom experiences.

Additionally, if you have a question or a topic that you’d like covered on a future episode, please drop me a note in the comments below.


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