Board Diversity for Better Business

By: Bill Gillon, President and CEO of The Cotton Board 

At our 2015 Annual Meeting, The Cotton Board elected new officers, including chairs for all Standing and Program Committees. The new slate of leadership includes Michael Wallace, an African American importer from Arkansas, as chairman of the Global Supply Chain Marketing Committee. His election marks our organization’s first African American committee chair in its 50-year history. 

Michael’s election comes at a time of heightened focus on diversity among all commodity boards and while some may think of diversity as another passing "buzzword,” our organization doesn’t see it that way. Michael is the Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion and Associate Resource Groups for Wal-Mart, and he has helped The Cotton Board embrace diversity and inclusion as a corporate goal dedicated to improved decision making. Our Board believes diversity is simply smart business. We are not seeking a diverse membership solely for the sake of checking a box. True board diversity/inclusion offers many benefits to an organization and, in our case, the cotton industry as a whole. Board diversity addresses more than age, racial and gender diversity, but also diversity in skills, philosophies, economic circumstances, and life experiences. Michael has summed it up by saying, "my hope is that my unique experiences and point of view will help guide and strengthen the cotton industry. I appreciate the increasingly diverse group of board members serving The Cotton Board and have witnessed a positive impact on our deliberations."

The diversity and inclusion practices The Cotton Board has adopted are designed to foster a high-performing learning environment where board members are engaged, valued and encouraged to collaborateand contribute at the highest level.  Constructing a quality board is about the caliber and perspective of individuals chosen, as well as the deliberate creation of a dynamic that encourages new ideas, cultivates thoughtful discussion, and welcomes new insights. A more diverse set of perspectives on the Cotton Board provides the industry with a stronger decision-making process and better strategic oversight capabilities, allfocused on improving the demand for, and profitability of, cotton.

Michael Wallace Photo