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.

News Release: The Executive Leadership Council Statement On Racial Injustice And Disparities Facing The Black Community

02 June 2020

The Executive Leadership Council issued the following statement in response to recent events fatally impacting the Black community.

Racism, in any form, is unacceptable to The Executive Leadership Council (ELC).

The ELC unequivocally denounces all criminal and racist acts of violence against our people. George Floyd is senselessly murdered by four white Minnesota police officers. Breonna Taylor is senselessly murdered in her own home at the hands of a white police officer. Ahmaud Arbery is senselessly murdered while jogging by three white men. Christian Cooper’s life may have ended had the response to a white woman’s false accusation to police gone differently. They join a long list of Black men, women, and children who have been the victims of murder, the common denominator indisputably being that they are Black. We are becoming an endangered species, often murdered by privileged white assailants, many of them the same people who took an oath to protect and serve us.

Read the full release here.

After Years Of Talking About Diversity, The Number Of Black Leaders At US Companies Is Still Dismal

02 June 2020

True corporate diversity can’t be achieved unless it’s reflected at the top. And given the persistent dearth of black professionals in power roles at major companies, corporate America has a long way to go.

There’s growing awareness of the need for diversity at all levels of the workplace — not just because giving equal opportunities to all is the right thing to do, but because it helps companies better innovate and compete as US demographics and consumer habits change. Yet numerous studies show the number of black professionals on boards and in C-suite roles range from not great to dismal. 

Companies are not required to disclose the race and ethnicity of their C-suites and boards, so the statistics that do exist are often collected by hand or extrapolated from surveys.

Read the details here.

America’s Few Black CEOs Are Speaking Out On Killings And Protests

02 Jun 2020

Only about 1 percent of CEOs in the S&P 500 Index are black, and last year 37 percent of boards had no black members, according to Black Enterprise magazine.

Some of the country’s most prominent black corporate leaders are weighing in publicly on the protests gripping the U.S., drawing from their own personal histories as they call for unity and seek to reassure employees.

The chief executive officers from companies including Tapestry Inc. and Merck & Co. are hardly the first prominent executives to comment on the topic. But by calling attention to their own backgrounds and relating painful experiences of discrimination, they are adding their voices to corporate America’s call for unity and calm.

Read the full article here.

Why Amazon’s Support For The Racial Inequality Protests Rings Hollow

01 Jun 2020

It had all the trappings of a tastefully supportive message.

On Sunday afternoon, Amazon followed the new brand blueprint of white text on a black background and tweeted out: “The inequitable and brutal treatment of Black people in our country must stop. Together we stand in solidarity with the Black community—our employees, customers, and partners—in the fight against systemic racism and injustice.”

Meanwhile, the world’s most valuable company boasts zero top executives who are black, and Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer is the single black member of its 10-person board of directors.

Read the full article here.

Board Director Succession Planning: Be Purposeful And Proactive

30 May 2020

Succession planning should always be a business priority. However, during an unprecedented global pandemic with hundreds dying every day, planning for succession is simply mandatory.

Some may argue that there are much more pressing problems to deal with than that which does not immediately impact the bottom line. But this is imprudent. Any business interruption due to the lack of a successor when necessary has wide ranging implications, particularly at a time when business is so disrupted already. In fact, it can be argued that the more chaotic the external environment, the more structured, prescribed and planned for internal business operations must be.

Read more here.

What Coronavirus Tells Company Boards About The Next Crisis

30 May 2020

Could board directors and executives have anticipated the pandemic? Yes, responded Louise Pentland, an executive at PayPal, the payments company, and a non-executive director of Japan’s Hitachi, during a recent webinar. Would the prospect of a global shutdown have been taken seriously enough to create a “full playbook” for a pandemic? “I don’t think so. I really don’t.”

It is taken seriously now. Company directors have scrambled to respond to coronavirus and its consequences. The crisis is testing the resilience of the “G” in the ESG triad of environmental, social and governance responsibilities.

Read the full article here.

Pay for Directors on U.S. Boards Expected to Rise: Report

14 May 2020

Pay to directors serving on corporate boards is expected to rise as they assume more responsibilities such as dealing with environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and the coronavirus pandemic, according to non-profit group The Conference Board. 

Read the full details here.

Crisis Management Response—What the Board Wants

14 May 2020

Crisis response is now a primary focus of internal and external stakeholders alike. Corporate board directors, as one of these groups of stakeholders, are, or should be, an important part of the crisis management process.

For years, crisis planning for many public companies evolved from a static “check the box” task to a multifaceted priority requiring real discipline. Today, COVID-19’s urgency brings the call to a boiling point—crisis response is now a primary focus of internal and external stakeholders alike. Corporate board directors, as one of these groups of stakeholders, are, or should be, an important part of the crisis management process. However, rarely a study has been devoted to understanding directors’ perspectives about crisis-readiness in general, and, significantly, to improvements that they they would like their companies to make. In this article, we explore those issues.

Questions from several prominent board directors about crisis management today is below. 

  1. Does your company have a crisis management plan, and if so, has it helped your company weather the pandemic?
  2. Are your companies providing you and your fellow directors with enough information about crises when they first surface?  
  3. Are boards concerned about conflicts of interest involving company management involved in investigations?
  4. Once a crisis is over, are your companies good at studying the results and adopting lessons learned.
  5. In responding to a crisis, how important is diversity on the board—of thought, background and professional experience?

Read more here.

Keep The Right People At The Table And Don’t Just Settle For ‘Good’ Decisions

08 May 2020

For the past few years, more and more organizational leaders have been increasingly thoughtful in terms of getting the right combination of people at the table so that the best decisions can be made. Yet, in times of crisis, calamity, disaster or catastrophe — when the stakes are the highest and strategic decision-making is paramount — are leaders continuing this thoughtfulness? Are they taking the few extra minutes needed to ensure a diverse group of voices will be engaged in problem-solving discussions? Or, because of the pressure to make decisions quickly, are leaders giving into their former habits and biases by nabbing the people they are most comfortable with to be a part of these critical conversations?

To read more, click here.

Heidrick & Struggles Launches New Dedicated Diversity & Inclusion Practice to Help Companies Accelerate Performance

03 May 2020

Heidrick & Struggles, a global provider of executive search, leadership assessment and development, organization and team effectiveness, and culture shaping services, announced the launch of its newly formed Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Practice. The new practice brings together highly experienced Heidrick & Struggles consultants from executive search and consulting around the globe to help clients build diverse and inclusive leadership teams and organizations with a comprehensive, integrated suite of services across talent recruitment, leadership assessment and development, and organizational transformation.

Read the release here.

Corporate Boards Slammed by Coronavirus Rethink Risk Planning

03 May 2020

More remote work and better crisis communications. Less dependence on a single supplier and fewer in-person board meetings. 

Those are just some of the ways companies and their boards are likely to change how they operate as the coronavirus pandemic puts pressure on crisis planning. 

Crisis preparedness is getting more attention among directors, who say they hadn’t done enough contingency planning before the Covid-19 virus outbreak.

Read more here.

Boards Must Help Shape Workforce Culture & Safety As The Economy Re-Opens

26 Apr 2020

Corporate efforts to re-open their business locations will benefit from close board oversight of workforce health and safety as they are affected by developing pandemic conditions.

The actual means by which businesses are reopened are, of course, primarily the responsibility of management. Yet, it’s important to recognize that the board has an important fiduciary stake in that effort. It’s not just the obvious roles relating to oversight of operations and finance. It’s also the emerging, important duty to exercise oversight of corporate culture. And on this, as with many other pandemic-related corporate challenges, management and the board are expected to closely team in new and unique ways.

Read the full article here.

10 Questions to Guide Boards Through the Pandemic

26 Apr 2020

Some say that corporate boards only have value when companies are in crisis. If that is true, the 2020 global pandemic presents a moment for corporate boards to step up like no other.

Here are a list of questions for corporate boards during this time.

  1. What can you do to ensure the health and safety of your workforce?
  2. What is your CEO succession plan?
  3. How do we keep our company culture alive?
  4. What is the company’s ability to cover near-term expenses?
  5. What tradeoffs do we have to make around payroll expenses?
  6. Do we need to adjust our supply chains?
  7. Are we prepared to work remotely for an extended period of time?
  8. How are we interacting with the financial markets?
  9. Are we behaving as a socially responsible organization?
  10. How strong is our underlying business model?

Read more here.

Willie Davis Remembered As A Hero By Employees, African American Pioneer on Corporate Boards

20 Apr 2020

Willie Davis

Willie Davis, the former Green Bay Packers and NFL great who died last week, was remembered as a tough yet congenial competitor in Milwaukee’s radio industry who also served on several major corporate boards.

Read more here.

Best Board Practices in a Social Distancing Environment

17 Apr 2020

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many communities around the world are practicing social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. All the while, companies are trying to safely proceed with business operations, leveraging technology to adapt to the new environment. For public company boards, many of which are preparing for proxy season, this could mean more frequent meetings, the use of a board portal for confidential communications and preparations for a virtual annual shareholder meeting.

Click here to read the full article.

Corporate Governance During Covid-19: Five Things Better Boards Are Doing Now

17 Apr 2020

  1. Think Carefully About All Your Stakeholders And Give Employees Greater Priority.
  2. Tip The Oversight/Support Balance Towards Support To Do The Right Thing Imperfectly.
  3. Have A Three Step Plan.
  4. Work At Speed Holistically With Government, Regulators, Competitors And Others To Operationalise Support.
  5. Risk Will Become About The Consequences Not The Cause.

Click here to read more.

Earl Graves, Sr., Founder Of Black Enterprise, Passes Away At 85

07 Apr 2020

Earl Graves, Sr.

Black Enterprise Founder and Publisher Earl G. Graves, Sr., the quintessential entrepreneur who created a vehicle of information and advocacy that has inspired four generations of African Americans to build wealth through entrepreneurship, career advancement and money management, has died. According to his son, Black Enterprise CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., he passed away quietly at 9:22 p.m. on April 6, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Graves was 85.

Read more here.

How Boards Can Prepare For Post-Pandemic Activism

07 Apr 2020

Periods of equity market turmoil often lead to increased activity. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant volatility in the equity markets, with companies across different sectors experiencing sometimes precipitous declines in share prices coupled with significant changes in share ownership. Public companies often experience an uptick in activist demands and unsolicited offers after such periods of exceptional turbulence. The 2008 financial crisis, for example, was followed by a significant increase in unsolicited offers, proxy contests and event-driven activism.

Read more here.

COVID-19 and First Concerns for the Boardroom

01 Apr 2020

As companies seek to understand and react to the particular ways in which the coronavirus pandemic may imperil their employees, operations and financial condition, there are certain key considerations that directors will likely be addressing as they, working together with management, support a variety of stakeholders through a time of unprecedented uncertainty. Among the key areas of focus for the directors are:

  • Assessing the risk
  • Responding to the risk
  • Maintaining liquidity
  • Communicating with a unified voice

Read about all the areas here.

Why Having a Diverse Board Is Good for Business

07 Apr 2020

Diversity introduces fresh perspectives and challenges old thinking. Learn how to create a diverse board of directors for your business, and find out how it can improve your bottom line.

  • Diverse companies are 35% more likely to have greater financial returns than their less diverse industry peers, according to McKinsey report.
  • Having a diverse board helps reduce risk, it challenges stale thinking, and it sets an example for the rest of the company to be inclusive.
  • To create a truly diverse board, try to avoid tokenism, embrace multiple kinds of diversity, and make it a company policy.

Read the article here.

Important Reminders for U.S. Boards of Directors Navigating COVID-19

01 Apr 2020

While COVID-19 will affect the operations of different companies in different ways, the boards of directors of every company should think critically about their oversight role in the context of this unprecedented global pandemic. Here are some things to remember based on the intersection of the pandemic with directors’ duties.

Read the reminders here.

Freeman Named To BlueCross Board Of Directors

01 Apr 2020

Darrell S Freeman, Sr.

Darrell S. Freeman, Sr., executive managing director of Zycron, Inc., has been elected to the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee board of directors.
A native of Chattanooga, Mr. Freeman founded the Tennessee-based Zycron and served as executive chairman of the information technology consulting firm before selling the company in 2017.

Read the release here.

Boards Are More Likely to Review Temporary Succession Plan Amid Pandemic

23 Mar 2020

Temporary succession planning could become a more pressing issue in the coming weeks, as companies prepare for the possibility of executive absences related to the coronavirus pandemic, governance experts say. Finance chiefs, long seen as a steady hand within an organization, are likely contenders to temporarily fill a chief executive or chairman post if needed.

Read more here.

Video Update: A Message from Our Founder

06 Mar 2020

Click to listen to the latest update from The Director Project Founder, Dana Bolden.

Delivering Outcomes Through Diversity

17 Mar 2020

Building a board environment that enables debate, discussion, and a leadership style that allows for possible disagreement or ideas to discuss tradeoffs allows you to get the best ideas what leads to the best long-term success in a company.

Naturally you get better diversity of ideas when you have people from different backgrounds. This includes ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and generational diversity (including gen Z and millennials).

Read more here.

Ken Chenault Leaving Facebook Board; Appointed First Black Berkshire Hathaway Director

17 Mar 2020

Ken Chenault

Former American Express CEO Kenneth I. Chenault announced Friday that he was “stepping down”  from the board of Facebook Inc. On the same day, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed the nomination of the world-renowned corporate leader to its board, making him the first African American ever to serve as a director of the conglomerate. Chenault will replace departing Berkshire Hathaway board member Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and billionaire philanthropist.

Read the full article here.

What To Consider Before Serving On A Corporate Board, Part Two

09 Mar 2020

In the last installment from Forbe’s magazine, a few questions were shared for those seeking a board seat. Here a few more to consider:

  • Can you bring valuable contacts to the table?
  • Do you naturally bring humor to stressful situations?
  • Do you like to dig deep for insight?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Are you optimistic?
  • Are you willing to speak up about sensitive topics?
  • Can you cast the lone vote?

Read the details here.

Seasoned Black Business Exec. Skip Spriggs Named CEO Of Atlanta Life Insurance Co.

09 Mar 2020

Skip Spriggs

Taking over the reins at one of the largest black businesses in the nation’s financial services industry, Otha “Skip” Spriggs has been elected president and CEO of Atlanta Life Insurance Co. Inc.

Read the full article here.

Fedex Appoints Its First African American CEO

04 Mar 2020

Ramona Hood

Hood is the first Black woman to become CEO in the company’s history.  The company announced today that former VP of operations, strategy, and planning today bringing more than 28 years of company experience to her role. She will be overseeing the Custom Critical division.

She started with the company as a receptionist in 1991 when the company was still the called Roberts Express.

Read more here.

What To Consider Before Serving On A Corporate Board

28 February 2020

Forbes shared an update on landing a corporate board seat followed by a few questions to assess your readiness. A few of the questions are below.

1. Do you truly have the time to serve?

2. Is compensation a secondary motive for you in seeking corporate board service?

3. Are you well-informed about board of directors liability?

4. Do you think like an entrepreneur?

Read the article and the full list of questions here.

INSIGHT-Too White, Too Male: Fed Takes On Diversity One Bank Board Member At A Time

28 February 2020

The Federal Reserve, long criticized for being too white and male, crossed a substantial milestone last year: for the first time in its 107-year history, white men held fewer than half of board seats at the Fed’s 12 regional outposts.

The shift, reinforced this January with a fresh round of appointments, has drawn little notice outside the Fed itself. But it is a window into how the U.S. central bank is setting the table for change among top policymakers, where progress toward diversity has been slow.

Read the full article here.

The Overwhelming Advantages Of Being A Social Media-Savvy Board Member

18 February 2020

Forbes Blog:

Over the last year, the most frequent event at which I was asked to present was a board retreat. What I found is that the most forward-thinking of the individuals who make up boards of directors know more than a little bit about social media, while others could use some education.

It’s not hard to understand why many board members aren’t their own social media gurus. Many have spent years working at the executive level, building and running businesses, crafting strategy, managing teams and networking face to face. They may see social media as something for personal rather than professional use, or as something that someone else in their organization will manage. Even LinkedIn, the most professional of the social media channels, is often viewed as only necessary if you are job seeking.

Read the full blog here.

Want to Join a Corporate Board? Here’s How

14 Feb 2020

As scrutiny of public company leadership increases, corporations are feeling the pressure to get out ahead of criticism by examining and adjusting the makeup of their boards. This makes 2020 a great time for business leaders interested in joining corporate boards—including professionals from nontraditional backgrounds and underrepresented groups—to make the jump into one of these high-profile roles.

Read the full article here.

Report: Most Board Members Found Via Recommendations, Dampening Diversity

14 Feb 2020

Nearly half of directors in a new report cited industry expertise as the top criteria for board membership. As companies face criticism about the lack of diversity on their boards, gender diversity (36%) and racial diversity (24%) were directors’ third and fourth choices, respectively, as criteria for eligibility. The report, What Directors Think: Public Company Directors Reflect on the Top Issues in the Boardroom, was published by Corporate Board Member, Computershare and Georgeson.

Click here to read more.

Gender, Racial Equity Still Unmet in Biotech, Especially in Top Roles

04 Feb 2020

A survey of nearly 100 biotech companies by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) has found the industry still has important work to do before achieving overall gender parity and racial diversity, especially in executive and board roles. While showing “progress in some areas, we know that as an industry, we can do better,” said Helen Torley, chair of BIO’s Workforce Development, Diversity and Inclusion (WDDI) Committee and president and CEO of Halozyme Therapeutics Inc.

Reposted from BioWorld. Original article can be found here.

How Much Should I Pay The Directors On My Board In 2020?

21 January 2020

In this article results are examined of Forbes most recent research that highlights how much board members should receive in compensation.

Read the details here.

What Are the Top Concerns for Boards in 2020?

21 January 2020

The list includes a potential economic downturn, board diversity, corporate reputation, pay equity, cybersecurity, and corporate innovation.

Preparation for an economic downturn is among the issues that will dominate the attention of corporate boards of directors in 2020, according to law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s annual look at top board matters.

Read the full list of concerns here.

Corporate Governance in 2020

21 January 2020

Every year there is a shift in corporate governance standards in an effort to evolve along with the rapidly changing business landscape and stay aligned with the shifting priorities of investors.

Read the topics for evaluation here.

Diversity Confirmed To Boost Innovation And Financial Results

21 January 2020

“Diverse and inclusive cultures are providing companies with a competitive edge over their peers.” This quote summarizes conclusions from The Wall Street Journal’s first corporate ranking that examined diversity and inclusion among S&P 500 companies. The Journal’s researchers’ work joins an ever-growing list of studies by economists, demographers, and research firms confirming that socially diverse groups are more innovative and productive than homogeneous groups.

Read more here.

Crystal E. Ashby Named The Executive Leadership Council’s Interim President And CEO

13 Jan 2020

Crystal E. Ashby

The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) announced Crystal E. Ashby as The ELC’s interim president and chief executive officer. Ashby is taking over for Skip Spriggs, who served as president and chief executive officer since March 2018 and retired at the end of 2019. She is the first woman president and CEO of the organization.

Read the article here.

A ‘Twist’ On Top Ten Governance Trends For 2020

07 Jan 2020

A twist, but hopefully not twisted . . . a slightly different take on developments likely to impact corporate governance in 2020. A list that doesn’t mention shareholder activism, cybersecurity, climate risks, nor SEC regulation. What follows are perspectives offered from a slightly higher altitude but still within sight of the tarmac.

Read the details here.

Key Board Takeaways From This Year’s NACD’s Public Company Survey

30 Dec 2019

The National Association of Corporate Directors’ (“NACD”) annual Public Company Governance Survey (the “Survey”) is an important resource for corporate boards and their primary committees. 

The 2019-2020 version of the Survey offers timely information on key governance practices and attributes. To be sure, at year end boards are typically flooded with well-prepared reports from a variety of estimable sources. Yet through the breadth of its data and its related analysis, the NACD Survey stands out as a particularly valuable briefing tool. This, not only for public company boards, but also for those of large private and nonprofit companies.

Read key takeaways here.

This Black Woman Was A Corporate Board Activist—40 Years Ago!

30 Dec 2019

Dolores Wharton

A Multicultured Life recounts the remarkable adventures of a multifaceted woman named Dolores Wharton who, at 92, set out to write and publish her own story, her own way.

“I don’t need the money and I’m too old for any sort of book tour,” says Wharton, who also wrote Contemporary Artists of Malaysia: A Biographic Survey, published in 1972. “I really just wanted to see if I could do it.”

Wharton more than did it. Her book reads like a fairytale, as much for its glamour as for its dark turns.

Read the full article here.

How To Build A Diverse Board

18 Dec 2019

Over a recent dinner with twenty C-suite executives, one founder-CEO recounted how he was preparing a slide for a company all-hands with headshots of his board of directors when he was struck by the contrast between his gender-balanced employee base and his all-male board.

“It wasn’t something I was proud to share with the team,” he told us, as heads around the table nodded.

The other CEOs in the room got it. A board populated exclusively by men is at odds with efforts to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the organization. For too many CEOs, the composition of their boards can feel more like a liability than a strategic asset.

Read the full article here.

To Improve Diversity, Recruiting Sector Must Set a New Course

18 Dec 2019

Improving diversity is something that most well-run companies and mission-driven businesses are now implementing. Progress is slow and many times it feels as if we are all taking one step forward, two steps back. But no organization is more important to the success or failure of these initiatives than executive search firms. They hold powerful sway over who moves into the boardroom and into C-suite positions, where all of the most important corporate decisions are made.

Read more here.

All-Male Boardrooms Gone Among Georgia’s Top Public Companies

27 Nov 2019

For women serving on boards of Georgia’s public companies, 2019 was a good year. OnBoard, the nonprofit that tracks the presence of women directors and officers on Georgia’s public company boards, says in a new study that for the first time in the organization’s 27-year history, the top 50 public companies in Georgia all now have at least one woman on their boards.

Looking ahead, OnBoard is going to focus on improving the number of women of color serving on the boards of Georgia’s public company. Although there has been some improvement, only 3.43 percent of the board seats in Georgia are held by women of color (which is nearly the double percentage in 2014, when it was 1.74 percent. Among Georgia’s top 50 companies, only 17 have a woman of color on their boards. Among the 18 Fortune 500 companies in Georgia, only half have a woman of color.

Read the full article here.

Thasunda Brown Duckett Joins NIKE, Inc. Board of Directors

15 Nov 2019

Thasunda Brown Duckett

NIKE, Inc. recently announced that Thasunda Brown Duckett has been appointed to the Company’s Board of Directors. Duckett, 46, is CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), where she oversees a banking network with more than $800 billion in deposits and investments and 50,000 employees. She was previously CEO of Chase Auto Finance.

Read more from the press release here.

The Board’s Role in Cultivating an Inclusive Culture

15 Nov 2019

“Just selecting a strong group of high-ranking executives doesn’t cut it,” say PwC and Ariel Investments chairmen.

Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and vice-chair of the board at Starbucks and JPMorgan, has consistently talked about greater opportunities for minorities, women and other underrepresented employees at all positions.

Read the full article here.

Untimely Death Of Bernard Tyson Inspires Tributes To A Leader In Healthcare And Corporate Diversity

15 Nov 2019

Bernard Tyson

Tributes continue to pour in for Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 60. Tyson ran the nation’s largest nonprofit integrated healthcare provider since 2013 and designed an industry-transforming model of tech innovation, strategic investment and affordable healthcare during a career that spanned three decades. One of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s 300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America, Tyson served as a powerful, unequivocal voice for access and advancement of healthcare, corporate diversity best practices at all levels and racial equality.

Read more here.

The Boards, They Are A-Transformin’

10 Nov 2019

No, it doesn’t mean that the Bard of Fourth Street has become a governance consultant. Nor does it suggest that the board must accommodate a voice of protest in its mix. But it does speak to significant new developments affecting board composition that provide important guidance to the nominating committee.

Read the full article here.

Fired up: Speakers detail how corporate boards can boost their diversity — and why they should

08 Nov 2019

According to Linda Willett, the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey — a $13 billion health insurer headquartered in Newark — currently consists of nearly 20% women and 30% people of color.

But Willett, senior vice president and general counsel for HBCBSNJ and president of the Women’s Forum of New York, said she guarantees that will change.

“There is such a premium on diversity now,” Willett said as she spoke at the Executive Women of New Jersey’s Corporate Gender Diversity Awards breakfast Tuesday at the APA Hotel Woodbridge. “We have to reflect the world of our customers and our board has to oversee our company the way our members see us.”

Read more here.

Former Bet Chairman Debra Lee: Keep Pressure On Corporations To Expand Black Board Representation

21 Oct 2019

Debra Lee

Some 20 years ago, Debra Lee, then chief operating officer of Black Entertainment Television, gained her first corporate board appointment when she was tapped to serve as a director for Kodak, the leading photographic film products manufacturer at the time. “I think the only reason they looked at me was due to the fact they called Bob Johnson, the CEO of BET, and asked him to be on the board. He was on too many boards so he said, ‘You should talk to my COO,’” she recalls. “That’s how I happened to get on a board.”

Read the full article here.

NYC Official Calls for an NFL ‘Rooney Rule’ to Boost Executive diversity

21 Oct 2019

A New York City official is urging companies to adopt a policy similar to the one embraced by the National Football League, as a way to boost diversity among the ranks of board directors and CEOs.

Recently, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer sent a letter to over 50 S&P 500 companies, including Walmart,  Boeing, Disney, and Verizon to implement a version of the so-called “Rooney Rule” when searching for new C-suite candidates.

Read more here.

BLOG: There Are Only 4 Black CEOs At Fortune 500 Companies. Here’s How The ELC Is Changing That

19 Oct 2019

Dana Bolden

Read Fortune’s article here.

Read Black Enterprise’s feature Carnival Corp. Ceo Arnold Donald: We Must Expand Pipeline To Increase Black CEOs here.

Dana’s commentary follows below:

As people of color, numbers play an important role in our lives.  Think of disproportionate representational numbers.  Numbers like 8% of the US population being black males and black males being 50% of the population of death row in mates in US prisons.

Astounding. With only four black CEOs at Fortune 500 companies and US based, African-American consumers spending $1.4 trillion annually.  Further, African-American’s make up only 8% of the US white collar workforce. One has to ask, “Are our dollars appreciated and respected?”  

I’d argue a resounding, “No!”

The Executive Leadership Council has been instrumental in getting people prepared to serve in C suites and on boards. 

ELC has developed a focus on boosting the numbers of African-American corporate board members through such measures as the recent African American Directors Forum in Pittsburgh, which resulted in the successful placement of eight new board members at major corporations in 2019. 

Efforts like these are critical to leveling the playing field for people of color.  As a collective, we have to support these efforts. You can’t drop funding for ELC and you cannot “just wait it out.”  People of color will never connect at the right levels if we don’t have backing of folks like ELC.

Well done, Skip. Well done.

Power In The Boardroom: Blacks In Corporate Governance

19 Oct 2019

For the past seven years, Black Enterprise has produced our annual Power in the Boardroom report, examining black representation and participation in corporate governance at the nation’s largest publicly traded corporations. As such, we have focused on companies that comprise the entire universe of the Standard & Poor’s 500 to gain a complete and comprehensive picture of corporate diversity and inclusion at the highest level.

Read the full article here.

BE, Bank Of America Honor Black Board Members Of Largest Corporations At National Museum

19 Oct 2019

Scores of black board members who represent the corporate elite made a bit of history as they were honored at the spectacular National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. BLACK ENTERPRISE saluted those listed on its just-released Registry of Corporate Directors, an exclusive club whose members serve on the boards of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies.

Read the details here.

Solving the Board-Diversity Imperative

19 Oct 2019

Time for boards to break down their own barriers. 

One of the common barriers when it comes to getting more diverse voices in the boardroom is not seeing beyond your own networks.

Case in point. In an effort to diversify the board of a Fortune 500 company, a board member recommended his neighbor who was professor emeritus of information technology at a prominent university. The professor had great subject matter expertise on information technology but very limited business knowledge. He didn’t read the board materials in preparation for the board meeting which became obvious by the questions he asked during the meetings. He was ultimately not nominated to stand for reelection.

Read more here.

5 Types of Diversity Often Overlooked

19 Oct 2019

Some lawmakers, regulators and shareholders are actively encouraging boards to recruit diverse candidates by setting quotas for diverse hires; and California’s recently passed law mandating gender diversity is just the most recent example. 

But are such moves really helping companies in desperate need of new and unique voices in the boardroom? While increasing gender diversity on boards is of critical importance, the use of quotas and mandates may not necessarily achieve intended goals.

Read the full article here.

The Hottest Corporate Board Seats in America Right Now

10 Oct 2019

If money talks, Starbucks Corp. CEO Kevin Johnson is about to get an earful.

When the coffee chain’s expanded board meets for the first time later this year with new members from Apple Inc., Nike Inc. and Domino’s Pizza Inc., the 13 executives around the table will represent public companies with $440 billion in combined revenue. Walt Disney Co. is the only other U.S. company with similar heft in the board room.

“If you’re at a high-rep, high-prestige company, you want to go on a similar board,” said David Larcker, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “What that looks like changes over time.”

Read more here.

Men Agree That Gender Diversity on Boards Is Important—But They’re Sick of Hearing About It

10 Oct 2019

Corporate directors think diversity improves their boards—they just don’t want to be bothered about it anymore.

Sixty-three percent of board directors now say that their investors devote too much attention to board gender diversity, according to PwC’s Annual Corporate Directors Survey. The last year seems to have pushed directors over the edge; only 35% said the same in 2018.

Read the article here.

10 Trends Directors Need to Know as 2020 Approaches

09 Oct 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

09 Oct 2019

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

Board diversity—or rather the lack thereof—has never been under more scrutiny.

In recent years, money managers like BlackRock and State Street have called for more diversity across corporate boardrooms, with the latter going so far as to announce it would begin voting against companies without any women directors. Legislation to encourage, or even mandate, diversity on boards is also gaining traction.

Read more here.

Blog Series: Finding Your Next Board Seat

24 Sep 2019

Forbes recently shared a blog series on Finding Your Next Board Seat. Read more about finding your passion and expanding your skills by clicking on the articles below.

Board Seat Skills Buckets: What Are Your Strong Suits?

Finding Boards That Would Welcome You

DiversityInc Hosts Conference to Address Challenges Women of Color Face in Corporate America

19 Sep 2019

Keynote Speaker and Panelists to Discuss Intersectionality, Code-Switching and the Importance of Allies

On Wednesday, October 2, the Women of Color and Their Allies one-day event, presented by DiversityInc, the dominant online diversity publication, will identify workplace challenges faced by women of color. The day-long conference will take place at the Hilton Atlanta Downtown Hotel. 

Read more here.

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. 

www.cnet.com

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.

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.