Director Institute

It's Time to Take a Bold Step Forward

Accelerate the development of diverse executives for corporate board service

There are many efforts underway to advance diverse executive leadership and corporate board diversity, but even the combination of everything that is being done today will be insufficient to meet expected demand for parity on leadership teams and corporate boards. Companies are showing improvement in their desire and ability to accelerate the development of their diverse executives, but it remains at a pace that is insufficient to meet both near-term and long-term corporate director demand. In fact, it's not even close.

Boards are making strong progress in appointing diverse executives into the boardroom—but more needs to be done

Boards understand the strategic value that diversity brings to boardrooms and are dedicating more resources and seeking new ways to expand their pipeline of board ready diverse executives.

Heidrick & Struggles is actively partnering with clients to assist them in preparing and developing diverse executives for future corporate board service, and we are committed to helping advance them into broader leadership and board governance positions.

A comprehensive development program preparing diverse executives for broader operating roles and corporate governance

One way to enhance the board ready talent pool, while bolstering operating skills and experiences, is with Heidrick & Struggles’ Director Institute, a unique program developed to provide opportunities for qualified executives to participate on corporate boards as Board Observers.

The Director Institute is a fully integrated program that includes CEO nomination, Board Observer preparation, a formal education program, and formal coaching and feedback.

Director Institute Program Overview

As a participant in Heidrick & Struggles’ Director Institute program, executives will serve as a Board Observer with a Sponsor Company board. They receive formal orientation as they begin the program, coaching and feedback sessions throughout their experience, full committee rotation, and a final assessment and feedback session. They will also participate in an education program at the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, designed in collaboration with the Director Institute program.

Graduates of the Director Institute program emerge prepared for broader operating roles, as well as corporate board roles, with more experience and strong references from their participation in the program. Sponsoring Companies also benefit from meeting compelling diverse executives that they can Host as Board Observers with their board.

Working together, Sponsoring Companies create development opportunities for high-potential diverse executives in a program where everyone benefits.


Program Benefits



Founding Program Advisors







Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University


Knowledge Center

Board Monitor US 2019: What’s changed in 10 years, what hasn’t, and what’s next

Board diversity is at an all-time high—but there’s a long way to go. In this 10th anniversary Board Monitor report, we examine decade-long trends in board appointments and explore the potential for increased diversity over the next 10 years.
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Evolving D&I to drive performance: A leader-led, business-driven approach

Corporate leaders are in a quandary: feeling stuck by the lack of significant D&I progress despite meaningful investment and uncertain what to do next. What’s needed? An innovative approach to getting unstuck and gaining traction, driven by hard business considerations that will accelerate corporate performance.
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Moving from a seat at the table to the head of the table: Lessons from female board chairs

Despite recent progress, the position of board chair is still rarely held by women. We spoke with a number of current and former female chairs at large companies around the world on their experience getting the top job and how to thrive in the role.
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Director Institute Leadership

Bonnie W. Gwin

Bonnie W. Gwin

Vice Chairman
North America
Learn More
Michael Nieset

Michael Nieset

Managing Partner Learn More

Contact the Director Institute

Contact the Director Institute for Program Information and how to Participate

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