Diversity and Discrimination on the Condo Board

June 2021

Condo boards don’t always represent building demographics.  Many are overrepresented by older and retired individuals.  Who volunteers to serve on their condo board depends on factors including personal interest, available time and expertise.  It often falls to older and retired individuals who have the time to serve on condo boards.

Lack of age diversity can create conflict.  Older directors may be less likely to support common areas for children, teens, young adults or families.  They may be content with current amenities and less likely to invest in upgrades or features that may include modern exercise spaces, study areas with outlets and internet access, or activity spaces.  Older directors, and residents, may fear too much noise, rowdiness or increased damage by catering to younger groups.

While some may want to create rules or by-laws to ensure greater diversity among condo directors the simple fact is that this is not allowed.  Age, sex, ethnic or other limitations on who can serve as a condo director are illegal for good reason.  Forcing such diversity on a board may appear desirable but is too easily abused.

Such efforts appear, and may very well be, discriminatory.  They have nothing to do with protecting the financial interests of condo owners and effective decision making.

There are ways to encourage individuals to participate as directors and increase turnover.  Term limits and staggering terms are most common.  Amend by-laws to require a certain level of attendance at board meetings as a means to force resignation of individuals not prepared to make the required commitment.  Hold meetings using smartphones or Skype.  Establish committees with an underlying purpose of grooming future directors.  Such efforts could make it easier for people with interest and limited time to participate in condo governance.

Too many restrictions can be a problem if the result is vacant seats.  There must be owners or residents with an interest in serving on a condo board.

Older people can be more conservative and cautious.  This is reflected in decisions made by a board comprised of older individuals.  They can also bring greater experience and common-sense to decision-making.  Younger people have new ideas and are more willing to invest in them.  Both groups are needed to build a board with experience and energy.

The best condo corporations have boards focused on increasing value and improving lifestyle.  Age and ethnic considerations should be secondary to experience, dedication and commitment.