New Insights on the Corporate Landscape

Visit this section regularly to keep up with the latest news on African-American Board news. It includes content on new appointments, the latest studies/trends and thought provoking content on why the average person should care about the lack of African-Americans serving on Fortune 500 Boards of Directors. So why is African-American Board membership important? Board Directors mission is to create shareholder value.

Boards create the policies that determine which people companies choose to hire, train, promote, and fire. They have oversight of corporate expenditures that cut across areas that impact society as a whole. They also shape corporate giving. For these reasons, we need to bring diversity…diversity of thought, leadership, global perspectives.

10 Trends Directors Need to Know as 2020 Approaches

10 Sep 2019

Heading into fall with eyes on 2020, corporate boards should brace for the increasing impact of digital migration, artificial intelligence (AI), and cultural shifts on their companies – and what this means for their role as directors, says WomenCorporateDirectorsFoundation(WCD).

Read the details here.

How to Create a Diverse Board of Directors and Empower It to Thrive

10 Sep 2019

Two experts share tips on expanding the candidate pool and ensuring that new members are heard.

Organizations need to reassess their goals for the board, including how to consider expertise and other factors unique to the organization, when creating selection criteria.

Read more about how boards can be more diverse here.

Vanguard seeks more boardroom diversity and wants details

04 Sep 2019

Top fund manager Vanguard Group Inc will ask companies about the gender, age and race of their directors, adding pressure on U.S. companies to diversify their leadership.

“We are expanding our focus to more explicitly urge boards to seek greater diversity across a wide range of personal characteristics, such as gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, and age,” Vanguard wrote.

Read more here.

If You Want To Join A Corporate Board, Take This Test

04 Sep 2019

If you are thinking about becoming a corporate board member, click the link below to read through a few questions to gauge your readiness and fitness for the task.

Read the full article here.

Companies Across the Midwest Adopt the ‘Rooney Rule’ to Fill Board Seat

A group of Midwest investors want to boost boardroom diversity across the region

14 Aug 2019

An initiative from investors across the Midwest aims to increase the diversity of company boards throughout the region, and they’re utilizing a technique born from the NFL to help companies find diverse candidates.

The Midwest Investors Diversity Initiative (MIDI), a group of institutional investors from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, looks to boost the number of women and people of color on the boards of companies based in the Midwest.

Read more here.

New Gig Economy Model Emerges For On-Demand Advisors

9 Aug 2019

A recent report by McKinsey found that knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the gig economy. Businesses are hiring experts who can advise at a high-level and in detail on how to navigate top business challenges like artificial intelligence, cyber-security, cash flow management, or new technology trends. According to a Forrester survey, 88% of companies agree that specialized talent is essential to the long-term viability of their organization.

This is where on-demand advisors come into play. High-level executives who are deep industry experts are contracted at an hourly rate for an agreed-upon length of time, whether it’s to meet for an hour about an HR crisis, extend to a longer engagement to help facilitate an IPO, or somewhere in between.

Read the article here.

Former BET CEO Debra Lee Appointed to AT&T Board of Directors

31 July 2019

Debra Lee

AT&T has added former BET Networks head Debra Lee to its board of directors.

“Debra’s outstanding leadership, deep expertise and strong track record in the entertainment and media industry will be terrific additions to our board of directors,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Her unique perspective as a media industry leader and operations executive, and her lifetime commitment to community service give her valuable insights I look forward to having on our board.”

Read more here.

James D. White Appointed to the Board of Directors of The Simply Good Foods Company

25 Jul 2019

James D. White

Simply Good Foods Company, a developer, marketer and seller of branded nutritional foods and snacking products, announced the appointment of James D. White to its Board of Directors, effective immediately.  White will also join the Company’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.

Read the press release here.

OPINION: How to Write a Board Resume That Markets You as a ‘Next-Gen’ Voice

26 June 2019

Dana Bolden

Many thanks to @rosavargas for this very practical bit of guidance.  As minorities seeking Board selections, we are accustomed to being the “only one” in certain situations as well as having to work a bit harder than our peers.  This content provides a very clear path forward for candidates of color looking to stand out from the pack.  We are often hesitant to tout our own, significant accomplishments.  I can’t tell you how many CVs come across my desk with phrases like “team leader” or “collaborator.”  Those are perfectly fine descriptors but when you want people to guide your company. Are you looking for a team leader or a change agent?  Are you looking for a turnaround leader or a collaborator?  Words matter.  And in the struggle for Board selection, we have to position ourselves in the best possible light. 

Read more here.

New Fellowship to Create Pipeline of African American Execs for Healthcare Boards

21 Jun 2019

A new six-month fellowship for African American executives is quashing the myth that diverse talent is hard to find.

The fellowship was created by The Leverage Network, a membership organization that seeks to diversify healthcare boards, in partnership with Ernst & Young and executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

“I’m extremely excited to offer an initiative like this, because it will play a key role in improving health outcomes for African Americans by transforming board governance in healthcare organizations,” Antoinette Hardy-Waller, CEO of The Leverage Network, said in a statement. “Our goal is to promote up to 45 executives on their journey to directorship over the course of three years.”

Read more here.

Maloney Introduces Bill to Increase Corporate Board Diversity

17 June 2019

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets, on Thursday introduced the Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act of 2019, to ensure that investors and the public have the information they need about the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of corporate boards.

Read more here.

A Coalition of CEOs Wants to Get Boards to Commit to Diversity

17 June 2019

Key Points

  • A coalition of chief executives is trying to get more corporate boards to create diversity plans at U.S. companies
  • “We’re asking CEOs and their boards to commit to annually doing a diversity and inclusion strategic plan,” Tim Ryan, chair of the steering committee for the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion told “Squawk Box” Wednesday. 
  • The group has 650 CEOs in over 85 industries supporting its efforts.

Read the full article here.

Illinois Bill Requiring Minorities on Corporate Boards ‘Gutted’

11 June 2019

Legislation that aimed to diversify corporate boards in Illinois passed during the final days of the General Assembly’s spring legislative session, but was stripped of a key provision that would have mandated minority representation.

The bill, H.B. 3394, would have required Illinois companies to have at least one woman, an African-American and a Latino on their boards. But the version that passed the Senate dropped that requirement in favor of one mandating that publicly traded companies in Illinois report on their websites the demographics of their board and executive ranks as well as plans for promoting diversity in the workplace. The bill, which is now on its way to the governor’s desk, also requires an annual report card on Illinois companies’ diversity to be published by the University of Illinois.

Read more here.

Peggy Alford Confirmed as Facebook’s First African-American Board Member

31 May 2019

During Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting, eight members were elected to Facebook’s board of directors, including PayPal executive Peggy Alford, who’ll be the first African-American woman to join the board.

Closing the Gaps: More Work Needed to Accelerate Gender and Racial Diversity on Fortune 500 Boards according to Heidrick & Struggles’ 2019 U.S. Board Monitor

30 May 2019

Key Points

– Women filled 40% of new board seats in 2018, the highest percentage in the 10-year history of the report

– Racially and ethnically diverse new board appointees in 2018 remained at 23%, unchanged from 2017

– Consumer experience for board appointees outpaced financial experience for the first time

Read more here.

What Boards Can Do To Positively Impact Corporate Culture

30 May 2019

When board members ACTT, the culture will never go back to what it was before. Organizational silos will break down. Cohesiveness will increase. And, ultimately, productivity will rise. Find out how to define and apply ACTT.

Read the full article here.

Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Steps Down; Winston Takes Over as Interim CEO

14 May 2019

Mary Winston, Interim CEO,
Bed Bath & Beyond

  • Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Steven Temares steps down, effective immediately.
  • Current board member Mary Winston will serve as interim CEO until a replacement is found.
  • The management shake-up comes as Bed Bath & Beyond faces mounting pressure from activist investors.

Read more here.

Why Every US Company Has a Stake in Bed Bath & Beyond’s Heated Boardroom War

13 May 2019

Key Points

  • Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond have declined from near-$80 in 2015 to as low as $10 earlier this year.
  • Responding to criticism from its active investors that Bed Bath & Beyond’s executive board had a stale perspective and lacked retail experience, the company replaced many of its members in April. 
  • The new board is mostly women, younger, more diverse and is classified as independent.
  • But experts say social diversity — gender, race, ethnicity and age — is only half of the equation for any board. The other half: diversity of professional skills and experiences.

Read the full article here.

Lack of Board Diversity In Global Business Experience: Another Crucial Corporate Governance Gap

8 May 2019

The long-overdue pursuit by boards of public companies to get finally serious about raising their games by diversifying membership by gender, ethnicity, and age is overlooking an additional extraordinarily critical goal:  bringing on directors whose careers are marked by broad operational experience working on the ground in a variety of international geographies, both in other mature countries, and arguably even more important, in fast-growing emerging markets.

Read the full article here.

Teresa White Elected to Synovus Board of Directors

2 May 2019

Teresa White

Synovus Financial Corporation has announced the election of Teresa White, president of Aflac U.S., to its Board of Directors. White has served as president of Aflac U.S., the operating U.S. insurance businesses for Aflac Incorporated, since October 2014.

Read more here.

The Debate About Directors With Too Many Board Commitments

30 Apr 2019

How many outside board positions are too many?

The asset manager Vanguard is taking a firm position on the issue of director overboarding. Its new proxy voting guidelines for U.S. portfolio companies essentially sets a limit on four directorships (and only one outside board for the CEO), in order to help address the demands of board and committee membership. In doing so, Vanguard makes a major contribution to the growing discussion about the impact of external commitments and distractions on director and CEO effectiveness.

Read the full article here.

The Thirty Percent Coalition Launches National Campaign to Promote Women of Color to Corporate Boards

23 Apr 2019

In this first-of-its-kind initiative, the Thirty Percent Coalition partners with the Nathan Cummings Foundation to bring attention to the small percentage (3.5%) of women of color on S&P 1500 Corporate Boards. The Coalition recently sent letters to companies in the S&P 1500 asking them to consider the value of adding women of color to their boards and inviting these companies to a series of regional events this fall.

Read the press release here.

Facebook Taps Peggy Alford as Its First Black Female Board Member

12 Apr 2019

Peggy Alford

Facebook has nominated Peggy Alford as the third woman to sit on its board of directors.

If elected, Alford will be the board’s second black person (former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault being the first) and first black woman. Under a recently enacted California law, the company has to have a third female on its board by 2021. The vote will take place at the company’s stockholders meeting on May 30.

Read the full story here.

Building Your Brand To Land A Board Seat

03 Apr 2019

Developing your own brand, your personal positioning, is a very important practice and the first step in landing a board seat. You will want to be crisp in distilling your career into three major digestible, thoughtful points. They should include industry background, your functional expertise, and what stage of company you are a best fit for.

Read the full article here.

When and Why Diversity Improves Your Board’s Performance

27 Mar 2019

Board diversity matters but concentrating on only one form of diversity isn’t enough. Interviewees suggested that social diversity (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, and age diversity) and professional diversity are both important for increasing the diversity of perspectives represented on the board.

Read the report here.

‘The Jig Is Up’: Maxine Waters Warns Corporate America About Its Lack Of Diversity

31 Mar 2019

Representative Maxine Waters

During Representative Maxine Waters acceptance speech of the Chairman’s Award at the 50th NAACP Image awards, she warned corporate America to fix its diversity problem.

“To America’s institutions that have historically overlooked women and minorities – the jig is up. I have created the first Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion in the history of the U.S. Congress. I have the gavel, and I’m not afraid to use it,” Waters said.

Read the full story here.

New Illinois Bill tries to include Diversity in the Workplace

2 Apr 2019

House Bill 3394 would require publicly-traded companies headquartered in Illinois to have at least one woman and one African American serve on its corporate boards.

Click here to read more.

Clarence Otis Elected Lead Director of Verizon

5 Apr 2019

Clarence Otis

The Verizon Board of Directors elected Clarence Otis, Jr. as Lead Director. Otis will succeed M. Frances Keeth, who is retiring from the Board May, 2019.

Read more here.

Amazon Diversifies Its All-White Board With Addition Of Starbucks Exec

5 Feb 2019

Rosalind Brewer

Amazon has appointed a black woman to its all-white board of directors after intensifying pressure to diversify the company’s leadership team.

Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks’ chief operating officer, will be the fourth woman and the only person of color on Amazon’s now ten-person board.  

Previously the CEO of retail warehouse chain Sam’s Club, Brewer is the second black director to have served on Amazon’s board. Myrtle Potter, former president and COO of Genentech, was the first.

Read more here.

Beware of the Small Base

01 Feb 2019

Dana Bolden

Having worked in financial communications for a number of Fortune 500 companies and being familiar with earnings reports, when I see percentage increases reported, I’m always a bit skeptical.  When news stories lead with percentage growth, I have a natural tendency to ask, “From what base?”

Reading the recent, “Missing Pieces Report” trigged my instincts.  In the report, the number of Fortune 500 companies with greater than 40 percent diversity has more than doubled from 69 to 145 since 2012.  The full report is called, “Missing Pieces Report: The 2018 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards,” and it is a multiyear study published by the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), in collaboration with Deloitte1

The report did contain good news. Any increase in the diversity of Fortune 500 boards can only be taken as good news because it represents progress.  But terms like “all-time high” and “rapid shifts” should be used with caution. 

Were the numbers reported pure financial metrics, most Wall Street analysts would offer a fairly lukewarm response.  

The new numbers do represent increases but we have to ask, “from how big of a base?”  The representation of women and minorities moved to 34 percent (1,929 board seats), compared to 30.8 percent in 2016 (1,677 board seats). Total minority representation increased to 16.1 percent (912 board seats) from 12.8 percent in 2010. 

Let’s celebrate progress but be wary of viewing this as a victory.  Much work remains in this area.  I encourage you to read the data here.

Will We Need Boards in the Future Economy?

31 Jan 2019

The future economy, with its emphasis on digital disruption and hyper-disintermediated business models, augurs change in the way businesses and companies are run and governed. The changing relationship between boards and management will have significant impact on the roles and responsibilities of directors.

Read the details here.

Tonie Leatherberry Named Chair of The Executive Leadership Council

16 Jan 2019

Tonie Leatherberry

Tonie Leatherberry, Principal, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and President of the Deloitte Foundation, has been elected chair of The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the pre-eminent global organization composed of current and former black CEOs, senior executives, and board members of Fortune 1000 and equivalent companies; top-tier entrepreneurs; and global thought leaders.

Read more here.

Everyone Knows Innovation is Essential to Business Success—Except Board Directors

03 Jan 2019

In a recent survey of 5,000 board members, innovation was not ranked high on their list of priorities. What are they not seeing? Ask Boris Groysberg and Yo-Jud Cheng. The researchers wrote up their findings in a Harvard Business Review article, Innovation Should Be a Top Priority for Boards. So Why Isn’t It?

Read more here.

Top Issues for Boards Heading Into 2019

Board diversity was among the top 10 issues Akin Gump says boards will confront in 2019, and which CFOs should be prepared to discuss with board members. Read the full list of issues here.

Building a Better Board: 5 Things Every New Board Member Should Know

Read more on expectations, missions and goals every board member should consider by clicking here.

Meet Nike’s New Diversity and Inclusion Executive

Tamika Curry Smith

Nike appointed Tamika Curry Smith as its new VP of Diversity and Inclusion.

Read the details here.

Nike Appoints Founder of Largest Black-Owned Assets Management Firm to Its Board

John W. Rogers

Nike has appointed John W. Rogers, the CEO and founder of Ariel Investments L.L.C. to its board of directors, according to a press release.  

Read more online here.

Chicago Lags National Average in Diverse For-Profit Boards

Only 14 percent of the board members at Chicago’s top 50 publicly traded companies are racially or ethnically diverse, compared to the national figure of 17.5 percent, a new report finds.

The 2018 Inside Inclusion Featuring the Corporate Diversity Profile report focuses on the top 50 Chicago-based companies ranked by 2017 revenue as reported in Crain’s Chicago Business’ 2018 Book of Lists and compares them to local and national statistics.

Read the full article.

Power In The Boardroom: Registry Of Black Corporate Board Members

Over the past six years, Black Enterprise has identified African Americans who serve on the boards of America’s largest publicly traded corporations.

Read more about the Black Enterprise Registry of Corporate Directors here.

Video – How to Become A Corporate Board Member

Deforest Soaries

Watch the video to learn more about Deforest Soaries’ journey to the boardroom.
Soaries discusses how he gained entry to corporate boards, uses his position to impact change and the importance of diversity in corporate governance today.

Blog Post: Why Being A Part of Corporate Boards Matter

Dana Bolden

Just recently, a colleague asked me if I knew any African-American’s who served in C-suite roles with food or agriculture companies.  I didn’t know anyone directly, but thanks to the database we keep through The Director Project, I was able to share eight names that fit the bill.

Perhaps this was an isolated conversation but I think not. As new companies form, spinoffs occur and Boards seek to diversify, we need better and more focused means of sharing the resumes of talented African-Americans who are capable of corporate board service.

Read more here.

Bold Action is Needed by Boards of Directors as Corporate Wealth Becomes Increasingly Concentrated, Says New Book

Are public corporations to be managed to support shareholder needs for constant growth, or are they to be managed to build long-term value for the future? According to a new book by turnaround and corporate governance expert Deborah Hicks Midanek, this debate forms the crux of a “Governance Revolution” currently underway, with an outcome likely important to every person on the planet.

Read more about What Every Board Member Needs to Know, NOW! here.

New California Law Forces Board Diversity, But Is It Right?

In a push to further corporate board diversity, California has enacted new legislation requiring publicly-traded firms in the state to have at least one woman on the board of directors.

Companies have until the end of 2019 to comply or face penalties. The more directors on the board, the more women the companies are required to add. For example, if a business has five directors, the law says it must add two women by 2021—six or more directors, then three women must be added to the board.

Read more here.