Is your board too old to innovate?


EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

2 minute read 15 May 2018

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In this era of digital disruption, age may not matter for effective business leadership.

With all the recent emphasis on the rise of the digital-savvy millennial generation, you could be forgiven for thinking that gray hairs and experience are no longer a sign of wisdom, but of being past it. This impression is further reinforced by looking at the CEOs of unicorn technology start-ups – those organizations valued at over $1 billion – many of whom seem to be in their thirties or younger.

But is this generalization fair? Is innovation really for the young? What’s the optimal balance between youth and experience to make the most of your organization’s potential?

Is your board too old to innovate

Diversity is the key ingredient

While the fresh-faced digital entrepreneurs who have founded high-value unicorn start-ups may get a lot of attention, in most cases you’ll find there are more experienced business hands working behind the scenes – advising on strategy, taking care of the details, keeping the finance flowing and making sure everything runs smoothly. After all, it’s important to remember that the majority of start-ups fail – often due to their founders’ lack of business experience.

Don’t get focused on age, but on the different experiences and perspectives that people of diverse backgrounds can bring.
David Storey
EY Global Talent Leader, People Advisory Services

So, to drive true success from innovation, you need a highly diverse boardroom and leadership team with varied skills and experiences. Leaders of innovative cultures need to know how to encourage these different perspectives, and how to use them.


Diversity, including generational diversity, is often a hallmark of a successful team.

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EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization