Diversity: perspectives from a BCI Board Member 

  • 18 Sep 2020
  • Heather

Since becoming a BCI board director I have been approached on several occasions to listen to the views of members who do not feel that our BCI chapters, committees and board appropriately reflect the diversity of our membership.  I, and the wider board, have always sought to enhance diversity across the BCI in all its forms and we have successfully addressed the board’s international diversity – we now have member-elected Directors from six countries.  But there is more to be done and the board welcomes views from all members on how the BCI can achieve this goal.  

We have looked at current membership data in a bid to gain a clearer picture, although there are several unknowns.  For example, BCI members can choose not to disclose information such as gender and age, and data such as ethnicity isn’t captured. That said, what we can see when we have the luxury of getting together in COVID-free times, is that the make-up of attendees is not always as diverse as it could or should be if we are to truly reflect the diversity found in the communities where we live and work. 

We must and do accept there are self-evident gaps in the current diversity in the BCI board.  I am currently the only woman on the board, and there is no ethnic diversity 

The debate on this subject can be passionate, and lead to unintended consequences, where some of our active volunteers who are from the ‘over-represented' groups feel that they should step away from BCI activities to make room for others. It is essential that the BCI chapters, committees and board, and all of us in the broader professional community recognize and champion the value that diversity brings.  However, it is undesirable and unwise for this dialogue to leave anyone feeling less appropriate to fulfil a BCI volunteer role due to their gender, race, age or any other demographic factor. 

Requests have been made to implement positive discrimination in BCI leadership forums, but on consultation with a broader group of members this is not deemed favorable by the majority.  Professionals representing minority groups have a desire to be elected to roles because of their experience and skillset, not because of preferential demographic factors. When we elect colleagues to represent us it is imperative that we vote for the individuals that we feel are most competent to deliver in the role, and best placed to represent us as members, as the BCI and our community. 

The BCI board views diversity as a strength.  Diverse forums bring the greatest variety of ideas, perspectives and experiences, which add tremendous value to everyone. I am proud to say that the leadership of my local chapter, the BCI USA Chapter board, is a fantastic example of diversity in action. The question that I continue to wrestle with is why diversity is flourishing in this professional community, but not to the same extent in many other chapters.  External cultural factors have a role to play, but I suspect that there is more that we can do. 

If you have an interest in getting more involved in the activities of the BCI, please do reach out to your local chapter representatives to find out more.  And if you aren’t sure who to reach out to, please contact David West, BCI Head of Communities, who can connect you with other volunteers in your geography or with similar interests.  The BCI thrives on volunteer involvement. 

If you have views of what more we can be doing as an organization to encourage and empower diversity in its many forms then please do connect with David West or I. Your perspectives and ideas are very much encouraged. 

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About the author

Heather Merchan

Global Business Continuity & Crisis Management Lead

Business Continuity and Crisis Management Lead for Deloitte Global; defining and driving security & resilience strategic projects, policy and standards, and guiding our network of firms in the building and evolution of bespoke programs. Active industry involvement including Director on the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) Global Board, prior BCI USA Chapter president, US technical expert for ISO TC 292 - Security & Resilience, and industry speaker.