Another slice of board diversity?
The New York Times reported over the weekend that a fertile source for board members of Morgan Stanley turns out to be CEO John Mack’s private golf club:
Two of the first directors named to the firm’s board last summer are members of Mr. Mack’s own club, the Golf Club of Purchase in Westchester County, as are two of his recent appointees to the investment bank’s management committee.
I should not be surprised–perhaps it’s just a coincidence. But then you read something like this:
“A C.E.O. wants a guy with shared experience and values, a guy, say, who gives him putts within three feet,” said Peter J. Solomon, an avid golfer who runs his own investment bank, referring to the practice of letting a fellow golfer finish a hole without a last short putt. “So many C.E.O.’s are isolated in their own boardrooms. They need to have people with whom they can discuss personal and confidential matters.”
A guy. Here’s the Morgan Stanley board roster. According to the Times, Messrs. Sexton and Bostock are Mr. Mack’s golfing pals. And the lone female member: Dr. Laura (as in D’Andrea Tyson, Dean of the London Business School).
I think a better place for old-line firms to find new-idea board talent may be a night club rather than a golf club. What could the board of Morgan Stanley learn from a young female entrepreneur from China or India? Probably a hell of a lot more about where markets and business are headed than from someone who walks around the golf links looking like this:
Board diversity is a long-running goal of many forward-thinking companies. A major focus has been to increase representation of women and minorities.
At some point will boards also consider members for recent, relevant experience? Not just for age (that’s a no-no), but for their mastery in new markets that are yielding much of the top-line growth for many companies. Many current board members have executive experience that pre-dated the Internet, mass adoption of technology, and the explosion of international markets.
Instead of more grey hair, a few boards could perhaps use some purple hair.