The inclusion of diverse perspectives in Boards of Directors is an important aspect of the conversation surrounding changes to regulating agencies. A recent report from the Citizen Advisory Group, a partnership of 15 healthcare-related Colleges, showcased the debate over the Board of Directors appointment process. Diversity of experience figured prominently, with members noting that this in and of itself should be “recognized and valued as a competency or expertise.”
With respect to the makeup of Board of Directors for regulators, the term “diversity” often refers to diversity of professional or even ethnic background. However, diversity of perspective is also integral. Indigenous perspectives, rural versus urban perspectives, caregiver perspectives, perspectives of consumers and other key industry participants should all be given consideration in the composition of these Boards. The inclusion of these viewpoints points to a broader view of the sector that does not restrict itself to a simple inclusion of registrants and consumers or patients. Instead, it requires a broader approach.
The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)’s task force on regulatory governance made references to the importance of diversity. In the report, task force members outlined the use of advisory groups that are established by an organization’s board to include a variety of perspectives on the work of the organization. The task force’s suggestions for potential inclusion in such advisory groups demonstrates an even broader view of whose voices are relevant to the CNO’s work, such as nurses from different sectors, educators, or even members of other professions. Prioritizing the gathering of such diverse perspectives for both Boards of Directors and potential advisory groups provides a more complete picture of the impact of the CNO’s work on varied sectors of society. This approach could be used for other organizations as well and would apply beyond the health sector.
Including diverse perspectives is an integral part of good governance as a whole. A paralyzed advisory group or board of directors, or one that does not represent the full picture of the sector, will only hinder the cause of good governance, and undermine the efforts of regulating agencies.
Once diversity is taken into account, proper training for board members or even advisory panels is paramount. This training must include training on bias and working in the public interest. Those wishing to take part in the governance of these institutions must keep in mind not only their individual perspectives and lived experience, but also their roles as members of a body that seeks to serve the public interest. It is important for all potential members, even those who may have arrived from outside the industry, to keep this in mind as their primary role.
Regulators themselves can increase their advisory boards and committees’ chances of success by considering factors like the structures and sizes of these groups. They can also work to clearly establish their members’ roles and responsibilities, and provide members with proper training and the necessary documentation and information necessary to make informed decisions about the agency’s work.
Diversity of perspective is a significant aspect of the conversation around improvements in regulatory governance. Ensuring that regulating agencies are able to obtain a wide variety of perspectives on their work is important, and must also be viewed in conjunction with maintaining effective governance structures that prioritize the public interest.