Diversifying the Board Prioritizing and Practicing Inclusivity

A democracy fares best when it is proportionally representative of its constituents. That's why a government that mainly consists of, say, old white men cannot necessarily relate to the plights of a diverse voter base.

For all intents and purposes, the board of a condominium, cooperative or homeowner's association is a democratically- elected entity, and as such it should strive for proportional representation of the residents it seeks to govern. America is a melting pot of languages and ethnicities and, as a result, a multifamily building in South Florida is bound to include a broad array of language and cultural demographics. 

This all raises several questions: How important is it for a board to accurately represent the demographics of its owners or shareholders? How likely are boards across various markets to be adequately representative? Who is most likely to run for board positions in general? Who is best positioned to encourage increased board diversity, and how can they go about it? 

Defining Diversity

In order to frame the discussion, it’s worth reviewing what diversity means today, and how the term has evolved over time. 

“Fifty years ago, when people in the U.S. spoke of diversity on corporate boards of directors, they were likely most commonly referring to either race or gender,” says James Erwin, Founding Partner of Erwin Law, LLC, in Chicago. “Now, the term encompasses a significantly broader spectrum of factors: gender identity, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and age, among others. Associations are managed by boards, and the directors that sit on those boards should consider these diversity factors in their management decisions.

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