Who you know still matters

Aug 30 2012 by Brian Amble Print This Article

For all the talk about increasing boardroom diversity – both in terms of gender, background and experience – it seems that the old cliché, "it's not what you know but who you know", remains true as far as boardroom appointments go.

Because according to a 10-year study of appointments to the boards of British companies, you are about four times as likely to be made a director if you are a member of the same golf club as a serving member of the board and almost twice as likely if you are a member of the same private club.

The study, reported in the Daily Telegraph, suggests that these social factors are a significant barrier to increasing female representation on boards, or indeed in broadening the pool from which directors are recruited.

According to Dr Helen Simpson, of Bristol University, who lead the research: "Our findings suggest social connections through private members' clubs and golf clubs - as well as networks of contacts established through existing boardroom positions - may play a role in shaping who gains a seat on a board.

"Being a member of a golf club seems to be associated with a higher probability of gaining a board seat.

"But what appears to be more strongly related to the likelihood of being appointed is being a member of the same golf club as a director who already sits on the board."