Cognitive diversity: a difference future

Boardrooms are most comfortable with the familiar. Has a strong predilection for the safety of ‘similarity’ over ‘difference’ created an antipathy for (or even a suspicion of) the unexpected?


Boardrooms are most comfortable with the familiar. Has a strong predilection for the safety of ‘similarity’ over ‘difference’ created an antipathy for (or even a suspicion of) the unexpected? Has a reluctance to embrace new practices caused the modern boardroom to evolve into an overly conditioned operating environment that is unequipped to address today’s complexity and uncertainty?

While some progress in boardroom dynamics is evident, arguably boards still operate under the same basic assumptions about how business should be done and how boards themselves should function as they did prior to the push for gender balancing. Diverse thinking NEDs are selected on these same assumptions and, as a result, often report feeling fettered by limiting mindsets that act to maintain conditioning and operate against the NED’s potential impact.

The answer to the conditioned board is cognitive diversity. Designing boards and their ecosystems to capture the greater capability and performance that comes from richly diverse thought is no easy matter. Without the right framework, diverse thinking quickly polarises personalities and fragments boards. This is why divergent directors are so often quietly exited and many boards continue to distrust difference.

The seeds have been planted to support the kind of dynamics that will help boards adapt to the emerging economic demands of people-planet centric business. The task now is to bring about the conditions for these seeds to thrive.

The webinar draws from notable experts and boardroom practitioners to explore how the boardroom is failing to grasp the opportunities from truly diverse thought, why actively seeking ‘difference’ is essential for innovation and the evolution of people-planet centric business, and how cognitive diversity can be made to work successfully.


Panel Chair:

Dr Tamara Russell, Director, Demyst

With PhDs in neuroscience and psychology, Tamara is a director of demyst, psychological consultant and trainer, and a visiting lecturer at King’s College, London. She has worked with high performance individuals in public and private organisations, and regularly publishes her work in academic journals and has published two books. Tamara is a powerful voice for the evolution of boardroom dynamics to support higher levels of team performance and cohesion.

Panel Members:

Neil Tsappis FCG, Founding Director, Demyst

Neil is the founding director of demyst. He is a board performance consultant and an innovator in the ‘future governance’ space. He is a primary mover for a pivotal shift in focus towards cognitive diversity within UK boardrooms, campaigning for cognitive diversity as a profound performance enhancer and as a vehicle for wider diversity, equality and balance.

Charlotte Valeur, Founder, Global Governance Group

Charlotte is a corporate governance expert and a keen advocate for diversity in the boardroom. She has an extensive portfolio career with a number of Non-Executive Directorships and Chair roles. She is a regular public speaker, a recognised voice on diversity, and particularly enjoys getting to the heart of challenging governance issues.

Denise Wilson OBE, Chief Executive, Hampton-Alexander Review

Denise is Chief Executive of the Government sponsored Hampton-Alexander Review, formerly the Davies Review for Women on Boards, which leads the national, business-focused task force and voluntary framework for increasing the number of women on FTSE 350 Boards and in leadership positions. She is credited with spearheading the diversity debate in the UK and for her major contribution towards gender balance within quoted boardrooms.


Sponsored by:


Demyst is an innovative, inter-disciplinary board performance and evaluation consultancy.

We leverage breakthrough science to help boards lay the relational groundwork and supporting machinery to promote exceptional decision-making, long-term innovation and agile leadership.

Responding to escalating workload, uncertainty and complexity, our services help redefine the modern boardroom, providing a framework and ways of working to focus on the more important decisions, creating space for bigger thinking, and sharpening the quality of supervision.

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