Skip main navigation

The Role of Solid Governance in Supporting Diverse Innovation

Discover the role of solid governance in supporting diverse innovation.
© Creative Computing Institute

Governance is about the structures and processes in organisations that hold people to account and enable decision-making to ensure meaningful action is consistently taking place. This is important because it is a tangible action that leads to change. Governance is also about equity – ensuring that staff is starting from the same position and that no one is being hindered.

As the team at Co-creating Inclusion put it, it is essential to “create the conditions so that everyone has what they need to do their best work and live their most fulfilling lives” (1). We often think of governance as something that happens ‘at the top’ in boardrooms and through senior management, but it should happen in different forms across a business, giving voice to all staff or employees whatever roles they are in.

Corporate Governance

Corporate governance can be defined as “the system of rules, practices, and processes by which a company is directed and controlled” (2) It identifies who has power and accountability and helps balance the interests of different stakeholders including shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers, and wider society.

In terms of D&I, governance often involves leadership and boardroom commitments about transparency, sponsorship, and improving D&I statistics. However, Trudy Bourgeois, founder, and CEO of the Center for Workforce Excellence states:

“To truly embody and govern inclusion, the board should reflect the diversity of [the organization’s] customer base in its composition, create an inclusive culture within the boardroom itself, and integrate inclusive thinking and behaviours into all of the ways that the board operates.”

Unless governance involves people who are invested in real change and who understand the communities they want to empower, it won’t work. Virtue signaling at the board level isn’t enough. This is backed up by research that found that companies who made statements of solidarity after the death of George Floyd had 20% fewer Black employees on average than those that didn’t make statements (3). This highlights the gap between what companies may say about social issues and what they actually do.

Governance in Non-profit Organisations

In non-profit organisations, governance is also important. It can help ensure that the organisation maintains a strategic focus, which is vital as a non-profit’s strategies and goals are inextricably linked to its mission (2).

Here are some example commitments that could help govern diversity and inclusion:

  • Acknowledge the urgent need for diverse innovation in the tech profession and wider technology industry
  • Commit to setting diverse innovation targets and an action plan for putting them into practice
  • Commit to developing your workplace culture, talent pipeline, and ways of working with diverse innovators
  • Commit to embedding inclusive design in all projects and contributing to the development of inclusive environments
  • Publicly report on commitments to supporting diverse innovation

Based on these examples, what forms of governance could foster innovation in your context? How could you ensure that they are acted on and followed through?

References:

  1. Co-creating inclusion
  2. Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland. What is corporate governance?
  3. Ellen Huet and Karen Toulon, 2021.Tech Companies That Made #BlackLivesMatter Pledges Have Fewer Black Employees, Bloomberg Technology Review.
  4. Board Effect, 2019. Top Five Best Practices in Nonprofit Governance
© Creative Computing Institute
This article is from the free online

Supporting Diverse Innovation

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education