The Chairman of the Board of a large privately held construction and service contracting firm called me to discuss the board’s effort to add a new director. He had received my name and contact information from a contemporary who sat on another board for which I had successfully identified and attracted new board members.

The Chairman explained to me that the board had spent a lot of time evaluating the collective capabilities of the board in relation to the anticipated experience and talent needs for the board to continue to effectively lead the company. He shared with me the specific background, business experience, and functional skills the board was seeking for this new board member. He also noted that the board had looked closely at its customers, its employees, and the communities it served, and the board determined that the composition of its members needed to be expanded.

Thus, the Chairman indicated that the board was committed to adding a diversity candidate to its membership, and this diversity was to include many elements. The company began and was based in the Midwest; however, the majority of its growth had occurred in the Southeast. Thus, the board wanted more board member presence in the Southeast. As the board looked at the company’s customers and employees, it realized that the gender and ethnic mix of the board did not adequately represent those constituencies. Thus, the board wanted to recruit a Hispanic female to this new board role.

Like most company boards, the board members had initiated their recruitment effort by contacting their extensive networks. They spoke with a number of people, but they did not find the candidates who matched their criteria. After this initial effort, they came to me.

The board added an outstanding business and community leader who had the experiences the board and the company were seeking. In a short amount of time, she has had a significant impact on the board and the management of the company.

The board members did not view this diversity effort as a radical or revolutionary strategy. In their discussions, they determined that it was an evolutionary step to more appropriately address the constituencies they serve (customers, employees, communities, etc.). The board and the new board member are extremely pleased with their decision.