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Diversifying a Company Board, Strengthening Business

Odilon Dimie/Corbis

Executives at MNT, a leading Turkish provider of molecular imaging and oncology services and an IFC client since 2012, know that achieving greater diversity in management is an important step toward growing their business.

So, to expand its board of directors, MNT turned to IFC—a shareholder with a 33 percent stake—for help in finding a pool of board-ready female candidates. IFC connected MNT with the International Women Directors (IWD) project, a Turkish initiative that seeks to place women in board positions. IWD presented several female candidates, including Ebru Koksal, a seasoned leader in the corporate world with a decade of global investment banking experience at powerhouses such as Morgan Stanley.

In September 2015, Koksal became the first woman on the corporate board of MNT. She’s expected to bring a fresh perspective to board discussions, and has already sparked a broader conversation within MNT’s leadership on board composition, dynamics, and diversity.

“I’ve found that I often look at issues differently than my male peers,” said Koksal. “Our perspectives may be different but not necessarily contradictory. Rather, I found that they complement each other and allow us to make more rounded analysis and take smarter decisions.”

The IWD is supported by Egon Zehnder International Turkey and led by Sabanci University’s Corporate Governance Forum, which conducted candidate background research. With the addition of MNT, just 11.7 percent of Turkish firms have female board representation, leaving a long way to go to reach IWD’s target of 23 percent by 2023.

Yet progress will continue to be made, as more and more companies recognize that board diversity enhances company performance through increased effectiveness of audit and control functions. “IFC understands our ambition to become a global brand,” said Ismail Dernek, MNT CEO. “They accompany us on this journey and really focus on how to best support our vision. We see Ms. Koksal as a valuable addition and asset to our board.”

Zeynep Kantur, IFC’s relationship manager for MNT, feels the same way. “The aim was to really identify the best talent and fit for the client,” she said. “This is all part of supporting MNT’s vision for global expansion – and it contributes to IFC’s board diversity targets.”

IFC promotes board diversity through its Corporate Governance Program, by building capacity and supporting training for senior women executives and women for management and leadership positions. The program also aims to raise awareness and expand the discussion about gender diversity, as well as increase the number of women IFC-nominated director positions, now at 28 percent compared with 15 percent in 2011. With the New Directorship policies, IFC will endeavor to have equal representation of men and women on boards.


date published: 10/15/15