Psychologists on Boards
WHY BOARDS NEED PSYCHOLOGISTS?
It is crucial for Boards of Charities, Services, Organisations and Businesses to be diverse
and inclusive to truly represent our society and to ensure that all views and needs are met.
There is a great momentum currently regarding inclusion and diversity by ensuring that as many different BAME groups as possible sit on Boards and a strong campaign for wider gender representation to increase the proportion of women and LGBTQ sitting on traditionally male-dominated Board. The inclusion of individuals with lifelong and acquired medical, physical and mental health conditions and disabilities and sensory impairments, and of course tapping into people across the adult life span - so in short, everybody, which creates a major opportunity for real social change and evolution!
Boards are made up of people, and the purpose of Board members, whether remunerated or voluntary, is to create a healthy tension between the Non-Executive Board and the Executive Management Board who are responsible for the management and output of that particular body, service or organisation, and to hold those post-holders accountable for the effective running of that body and properly meeting its stated aims and its legal, accounting, ethical and, more recently, its positive social responsibilities.
The ~Environmental, Social and Governance (#ESG) movement is rapidly gaining momentum with investors and leadrers and ESG clealry identifies people as the primary asset of any business. With that in mind, we must expect to see a reversal of the traditional thinking - moving from a structure where HR professionals were not even given a seat at the boardroom table to a progressive position where directors who understand about people are given much more prominence, alongside directors concerned with finance or sales. Recent societal and workplace change means that attracting, engaging and retaining the top people and workforce talent is ever more crucial than it has ever been, and who better to provide critical challenge than psychologists as NEDS as well as Boards Advisors and Consultants,
Inevitably, these processes will be complex and challenging, and so conflict may arise between Board members, different Boards, and all levels across that organisation.
Psychological Safety, Wellbeing and Emotional Intelligence is vital for the performance, productivity, efficiency and healthy functioning of individuals, boards and stakeholders.
The Business Case for Psychologists on Boards is clear. In the UK, poor mental health costs the UK economy over £94bn a year! For example, the IoD has a mental health hub and has signed up to a new "Mental Health at Work" commitment and the FCA is investing heavily in upskilling financial services on culture and psychological safety. We are still lagging behind Australia though as they have recently mandated Psychologists on the Boards of their top businesses, and in the UK, the FCA is investing heavily in upskilling financial services on culture and psychological safety, for example.
Psychologists are diverse, highly-trained and qualified professionals working across areas including clinical, occupational, educational, coaching, organisational and business specialisms. Fundamental to all psychologists, crucially, is the major evidence-based focus on human thinking and behaviour, as individuals and groups, in highly complex systems and organisations, and across all BAME and socio-economic groups in our diverse society.
Collectively, Psychologists bring professional expertise and meaningful understanding of the very real impact of our own human experience, in everyday life, in times of stress and pressure, in good times and in bad. Psychologists strive to ensure that Equality Act and the Duty of Care requirements are met, alongside meeting the goals of the organisation itself.
Embedded in such psychological practice and service provision is reflective practice, where Psychologists work with a senior or peer supervisor regularly in order to account for their work and practice. This reflective practice process is exactly the same as the relationship between a management or Executive Board and the Non-Executive or Trustees Board and is designed in both examples to develop and ensure the highest possible organisational standards and performance in its dedicated arena, in accordance with its roles and responsibilities such as to its shareholders, service users or customers.
This is essential in the Corporate Governance of a effective workforce with excellent management practice and productivity, ensuring high professional standards, quality selection, training and support, and organisational psychological safety, keeping Board dysfunction, damaging, discriminatory, fraudulent and criminal behaviours to a minimum.
Psychologists have a proven ability to assess complex and challenging situations and to understand the bigger picture for causal and maintaining issues and contextual obstacles.
There will be times when Psychologists may need to support Boards in facing challenges and taking difficult decisions and to help to contain any conflict, distress and fall-out at such difficult times while facilitating Boards in developing their effective problem-solving strategies. These may be one-off interventions, project work, or an ongoing commitment.
Psychologists’ "stock in trade" skills sets includes psychological expertise and principles gained from their professional practice, research knowledge and applied psychological practice within public and private sector organisations, and a very fresh pair of eyes!
This is why Psychologists can be so very useful to Boards, as Board members, as Expert Advisors to the Board, as Coaches and Mentors, Facilitators and Mediators, Trainers, and as Mental Health & Wellbeing Auditors and Risk Management specialists.
Our USP is identifying conscious and unconscious processes underlying bias, attitudes and barriers impeding positive organisational change in diversity and inclusion, across all axes including Gender and LGBTQ, BAME, Physical and Mental Health and Disabilty, and Age, in order to help Boards to understand issues such as subconscious bias and to address, debate and work towards achieving positive resolutions of these blocks and issues in a safe space with a no blame approach wherever possible.
Psychologists are also highly skilled in innovative approaches such as compassionate and conversational leadership, systemic practice and organisational change management.
Psychologists are compassionate, insightful, resourceful and wise, and above all, human .
This is why you need Psychologists on Boards!