Business leaders met this week to discuss how companies with diverse boards are better equipped to outperform competitors.

The Malta Business Network panel event discussed the importance of having different academic and personal backgrounds in the boardroom.

The event was moderated by Fabianne Ruggier, a director in the advisory service line of the firm RSM Malta and the panel included three local directors; Vanessa Said Salomone of the VJ Salomone Group, Natalie Briffa Farrugia from the Vassallo Group, and Nadia Pace who sits on various local company boards.

Introducing the event, Ruggier said that all too often, boards of directors are made up of members from the same background - predominantly, legal and finance.

While these professions were mainstays, it was time to also consider other backgrounds like tech expertise, communications and marketing knowhow, as well as human resources and talent management experience.

These seldom represented perspectives, she said, can lead to a far more effective board, which is better equipped to add value to the business.

Said Salmone referred to a 2020 study by US consultancy firm McKinsey & Company which found that companies which had implemented diversity targets for their boards were more likely to financially outperform their competitors.

In her experience, too many of Malta’s boards were male-dominated, and relied too heavily on the same pool of expertise.

Meanwhile, Pace, who also chairs ARMS Ltd, said boards could begin drawing from a wider pool of talent by setting up specific committees. Involving different competencies in these committees, she said, is an ideal entry point for companies to begin integrating diversity to their boardrooms.

Briffa Farrugia also made the case for embracing diversity, saying that in a world where the only true constant is change, the question businesses must ask themselves is how they too can change to adapt to new realities.

“The expiry date for products is getting shorter, what then about the expiry date of our boards,” she asked.

The event was part of the Malta Business Network’s monthly discussion series.

October’s panel debate will see policy makers, prominent businesses, and lobbyists discuss the future of Malta’s tourism offering.