Is the lack of diversity in the boardrooms contributing to widening the digital divide?

Is the lack of diversity in the boardrooms contributing to widening the digital divide?

Right now business is required to be nimble in order to change to the current circumstances. This is not going to change. There are only two things we can take for granted and that is that change and that the speed of digitalization will accelerate even more. Not only due to new technological advancements and innovative solutions that we cannot foresee, but totally unexpected occurrences as pandemics are also now added to the mix. 


As someone who is a service provider within digital and digitalization, I’ve watched so many passionate employees working client side that have identified the requirement for a faster pace of the adaption to digital in some cases just give up. Being a digital advocate in larger more traditional companies can sometimes require a lot of time and energy focusing on argumentation and battling corporate red tape rather than being able to put that energy into progressing further and getting the results that are needed. 


Half my job is sometimes to support my clients to navigate internal politics and governance that does not support digitalization or the actual focus of their role. 


These employees are often highly committed to the company. And have identified how digital can increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, free up resources, deliver better customer service and experience. These opportunities are something that at the end of the day will affect the bottom line in a positive way. Even though they may in some instances require an initial investment. 


What I question is why are some companies so slow to respond to this even though the rewards from any initial investments are quite obvious? I’ve even worked with companies where everyone knows that they are delivering a bad customer experience and that their operations could be done more efficiently – however, they just don’t. Because it’s easier to do things as they have always been done and leave it that way. 


There is no more business as usual and I suspect that current circumstances has helped educate about the fact there is a need for speed when it comes to digitalization. However, the digital divide is becoming wider during this time. As some companies were surprised by the need to readjust their way of both working and operating due to the Coronavirus. Leaving companies that have worked years to try to adapt their business and operations to digital, to virtually having to do this overnight. 


Not only that, now there is an added dimension for more “old school companies” that they have to take into account – a remote and virtual workforce. Putting new demands on technology, operations and communication that they now need to handle. For some companies that means that their challenge level for digitalization just went up a few notches. 


It makes me wonder why some organisations do not have the support they need in terms of digitalization. It may be a gap between the competencies working within the organisation in day-to-day operations and the board?  Is digitalization at all included on the agenda of those companies? 


As digitalization puts new requirements on the board members skills, experiences and perspectives. Which makes me question if the boards on these types of companies are diverse enough to handle this topic?