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.
More Women And People Of Color Appointed To Corporate Boards But Pandemic And Biases May Reverse It
17 Sep 2020
A new report shows hope for women and minorities in the corporate world. Racial diversity and attempts at creating gender-balanced workplaces lead to more equal and representative environments, and while such social progress is an achievement, citizens must ensure that the positive changes are there to stay.
Data from a September 9 report by Heidrick & Struggles, which regularly tracks trends in corporate appointments, shows an uptick in the number of women and people of color serving on corporate boards. It specifically looks at non-executive director appointments to corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies, which illustrates that 44% of those appointments in the United States in 2019 were women. This is a 25% increase from 2010. The rise in female appointments has led to improvements in overall board diversity as well, including at senior executive positions.
Eventbrite Appoints Naomi Wheeless to Board of Directors
17 Sept 2020
Eventbrite, a global self-service ticketing and experience technology platform, announced the appointment of Naomi Wheeless to the company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. A seasoned customer experience and operations leader, Wheeless currently serves as the Global Head of Customer Success at Square, where she oversees one of the company’s largest teams focused on addressing critical customer needs.
Diversity Push Barely Budges Corporate Boards to 12.5%, Survey Finds
17 Sep 2020
Despite pledges to nominate more members of underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, companies have made little progress over the last five years.
Corporations in the United States have pledged for years to increase the number of Hispanic, Black, Asian-American and other underrepresented members on their boards, which make decisions that affect the livelihoods of millions. Yet a comprehensive new survey finds that they have made little progress.
The boards of the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies remain overwhelmingly white. Underrepresented ethnic and racial groups make up 40 percent of the U.S. population but just 12.5 percent of board directors, up from 10 percent in 2015, according to a new analysis by the Institutional Shareholder Services’ ESG division. The firm, which announced a database of the findings on Tuesday, advises investors on how to vote in board elections and on other corporate matters.
Black directors make up just 4 percent of the total, up from 3 percent in 2015, while Black women make up just 1.5 percent of the more than 20,000 directors included in the analysis, which goes beyond other surveys that included only the 500 largest public companies.
The Board Challenge Launches Pledge For U.S. Boards Of Directors To Add A Black Director Within One Year
12 Sep 2020
The Board Challenge announced the launch of a pledge for U.S. corporate boards of directors to add a Black director within the next year. Founded by Altimeter Capital, Valence and theBoardlist, signed by 17 Founding Pledge Partners, and supported by 27 Charter Pledge Partners that already have at least one Black director, the initiative seeks to accelerate action to improve the diversity of corporate boards starting with the representation of Black leaders on the boards of U.S. companies. Every U.S. company is encouraged to take the pledge at theboardchallenge.org, and companies that have at least one Black director are asked to sign on to express their support and use their resources to drive change.
Nasdaq Continues Commitment to Equality by Becoming a Signatory of The Board Challenge
12 Sep 2020
As part of its continuing commitment to equality, Nasdaq announced on Sept. 9 that it is a signatory of The Board Challenge, a pledge seeking to enhance representation in the boardroom by asking companies to retain or add a Black director to their board. Joining the movement as a Charter Pledge Partner, Nasdaq will use its resources to accelerate change and support the goal of true and full representation on all boards of directors.
Galvanized by the energy of the Black Lives Matter movement, The Board Challenge is asking all boards without a Black director to add a Black director in the next 12 months
The Gap Sued Over All-White Board, Executive Committee
12 Sep 2020
A derivative shareholder lawsuit has been filed against The Gap charging the retailer with breach of fiduciary duty, among other charges, because of its all-white board of directors and executive committee and calling for replacing at least two of its current board members with Black directors.
Derica W. Rice Named to Target Corporation’s Board of Directors
03 Sept 2020
Target Corporation announced its board of directors elected Derica W. Rice, former executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Caremark, as director.
Mr. Rice, 55, served as executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Caremark, the pharmacy benefits management business of CVS Health, from March 2018 through February 2020. Previously, he held various executive positions at Eli Lilly and Company, most recently executive vice president of Global Services and chief financial officer from 2006 to 2017. Mr. Rice is currently a member of The Walt Disney Company’s board of directors and joined the board of directors of Bristol Myers Squibb on September 1, 2020. He previously served as a member of the board of directors of Target Corporation from 2007 to January 2018.
Stacy Brown-Philpot, TaskRabbit’s Outgoing CEO, On Being Black in Silicon Valley After George Floyd
03 Sept 2020
“When you look at Black representation, it’s pretty dismal,” says Stacy Brown-Philpot whose decision to step down as chief executive officer of TaskRabbit at the end of August undercuts an industry already short on executives from underrepresented groups.
Her departure also leaves her gig-economy company without any Black representation in the executive suite or on its board of directors.
“The face of Silicon Valley has to change in every single respect,” Brown-Philpot, one of Silicon Valley’s few Black CEOs and one of its most prominent Black women leaders, told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview.
Amazon Primed: The Other Jeff Leaves, First Black Woman On Leadership Council, New Jobs
25 Aug 2020
A quiet week for everyone’s favourite cardboard abuser, which usually means a busy one is just around the corner! First the good news, Amazon has named, Alicia Boler Davis, to the company’s top leadership council. A big move considering the overly white and male Amazon top brass. Boler Davis is vice president of global fulfillment which means warehouses are her jam in a big way. Three execs in total were popped on the S-team including Boler Davis.
Redfin Appoints Black HR Exec To Board Following Diversity Pledge
25 Aug 2020
Following a search aimed at bringing “a diverse perspective” to the company, Redfin has appointed Kerry Chandler, a human resources executive who is Black, to its board of directors.
Chandler, who serves as chief human resources officer of Endeavor, an entertainment, sports and media conglomerate, is joining the national brokerage and listings website’s board of directors as its ninth member.
Debra Lee, Former CEO Of BET Networks, Appointed To Board Of Procter & Gamble
17 Aug 2020
Debra L. Lee, the former chairman and CEO of Black Entertainment Television (BET), has been appointed to the board of directors at the Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), a multinational consumer goods company that manufactures brands like Always, Bounty, Charmin, Crest, Dawn, Febreze, Gillette, Tide, and Vicks.
There’s No Excuse For Not Having Racially Diverse Boards. Here’s How To Do It
17 Aug 2020
It’s no secret that corporate America has a diversity problem. And it starts at the very top. Growth in the number of minority directors on US corporate boards has been painfully slow.
Last year, just 19% of all directors at the top 200 companies of the S&P 500 were minorities, defined as African-American/Black, Asian and Hispanic/Latino, according to the latest US Spencer Stuart Board Index. That’s up from 15% in 2009.
But as the United States undergoes a powerful reckoning with systemic racism, there are some signs that boards may now start prioritizing efforts to go beyond their usual networks to fill more open seats with people of color.
General Mills Sets Goals To Elevate Black Managers, Executives
17 Aug 2020
Golden Valley company commits to doubling their number, taking other steps to increase diversity, support racial equality.
General Mills said it will double the number of Black managers throughout the company, making a public commitment after the police killing of George Floyd thrust more attention on racial injustice and inequality.
The food company’s plan, reflects a larger reckoning in corporate America over the lack of diverse representation in upper management. Additionally, the company — founded in Minneapolis, and now based in Golden Valley — promised to increase the percentage of racially and ethnically diverse individuals holding professional positions within the company’s U.S. offices, currently at 19%, to 25%. It said it will diversify its supply base by doubling what it spends with minority-owned vendors.
Workplace diversity can bring out the best in teams by promoting creativity, encouraging greater consideration of alternatives, and providing access to a wider range of information and perspectives. The numerous benefits also extend to employee recruitment and retention. Despite the growing body of evidence of these advantages and the proliferation of company-sponsored diversity initiatives, the advancement of Black professionals up the corporate ladder has been painfully slow and may even be reversing.
The underrepresentation of Black professionals is especially bleak in the highest echelon of corporate America: boards of directors. Although newly-appointed directors are increasingly diverse, 37% of S&P 500 firms did not have any Black board members in 2019 and Black directors comprised just 4.1% of Russell 3000 board members that same year.
Working Inside the System: Black Directors Stand Up for the Future of Corporate America.
3 Aug 2020
Racial understanding and equality needs to improve in corporate America and Black board members are actively taking up the cause while maintaining fiduciary duties.
When protests in Minneapolis started to spread, Gaby Sulzberger, director for Mastercard and Bixmor Property Group, says she immediately hit the phones.
“In my case it came very quickly,” says Sulzberger, who also sits on several private and nonprofit boards. “I reached out to all of my CEOs and told them I was available for them to draw on and talk to [about racial and social issues], give perspective, be a sounding board. Every one of them called me back within hours.”
Board++ Is Solving The Problem Of Diversity And Inclusion On Tech Startup Boards, Stengle Says
3 Aug 2020
Serial entrepreneur and Startup Grind Princeton director David Stengle discussed his new startup, Board++ (Princeton), at a recent virtual meeting of Startup Grind-NY Capital Region.
The company’s mission is to diversify boards, so that founders can get the enriching perspectives of people who do not look like them. According to research, founders make better decisions when they can consult board members from different backgrounds. Board diversification also sends a powerful cultural message to startup employees, investors and customers.
Juul Hires First Black Director, Names CEO Crosthwaite Chairman
3 Aug 2020
Juul Labs Inc. has tapped Teresa Sebastian, an executive with financial and compliance expertise, to join its board as the company seeks to reset its business and diversify its ranks.
Sebastian is chief executive officer of The Dominion Asset Group, an early-stage investment group focused on revitalizing urban areas. She will serve as an independent director and head up the closely held e-cigarette giant’s audit committee. Sebastian is the first Black member of the company’s eight-person board.
Lionsgate Names Former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn To Its Board
3 Aug 2020
Lionsgate has named former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to its board of directors.
Clyburn served as a Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission from 2009 to 2018, including as acting chair. While at the FCC, she was committed to closing the digital divide and championed the modernization of the agency’s Lifeline Program, which assists low-income consumers with voice and broadband service. She promoted diversity in media ownership, initiated Inmate Calling Services reforms, supported inclusion in STEM opportunities and fought for an Open Internet.
BG Staffing, Inc. Expands Board of Directors with Two Appointments – Cynthia G. Marshall and BGSF’s President & CEO, Beth A. Garvey
3 Aug 2020
BG Staffing, Inc. a national provider of workforce solutions, announced that the Company expanded the Board to seven members with the appointments of Cynthia “Cynt” G. Marshall and Beth A. Garvey, BGSF’s President and CEO, effective immediately.
Marshall has a long record of achievement and executive leadership. She is currently the CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, is Founder, President and CEO of the consulting firm Marshalling Resources, and retired after a 36-year career at AT&T, most recently as SVP – Human Resources and Chief Diversity Office
Chipotle Names Mary Winston To Its Board Of Directors
29 Jul 2020
Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the addition of Mary Winston to its board of directors. The changes to the board composition come after Chipotle appointed Brian Niccol, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors in early March, as well as the departure of three directors.
Mary Winston is the Founder and President of WinsCo Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm providing financial and board governance advisory services since 2016. She served as interim Chief Executive Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond in 2019, and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Family Dollar Stores, from 2012 until it was acquired by Dollar Tree in 2015. Prior to that, Mary was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Giant Eagle, a supermarket chain from 2008 to 2012, and as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Scholastic Corporation from 2004 to 2007. Mary currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Acuity Brands, Inc., Domtar Corporation, Dover Corporation, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
He’s served on 14 boards. Now he wants companies to find other Black candidates
26 Jul 2020
Barry Lawson Williams has a message for companies: Find new Black candidates to serve on your board. Over the course of several decades, Williams, who ran his own consulting and investment company for many years, has served on 14 public company boards, including prominent institutions such as Sallie Mae, Navient Corporation, and PG&E, where he was the lead director. While on boards, it was not unusual for Williams to be the lone Black member.
“You see the same people being asked to serve on multiple boards while many fantastic candidates never get the position,” said Valerie Frederickson, founder and CEO of Frederickson Partners, an HR Executive Search and Consulting firm that has worked with companies such as Alphabet, Facebook and Uber. “Most boards remain extremely risk averse and only want to offer board positions to people they consider as much like them as possible.”
Fifth Third Appoints Linda W. Clement-Holmes to Board of Directors
26 Jul 2020
Fifth Third Bancorp announced the appointment of Linda W. Clement-Holmes as an independent director of Fifth Third Bancorp, effective immediately.
Clement-Holmes retired from Procter & Gamble in 2018 after a 35-year career that culminated in the role of chief information officer. She is widely recognized as a leader in information technology, information security and digital and IT strategy, and has been listed in Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders, Uptown Professional’sTop 100 Executives, and Black Enterprisemagazine’s Top Executives. She is a fellow at the IT Senior Management Forum and a recipient of numerous awards, including the Howard University Global Visionary Leadership Award.
Top 3 Corporate Governance Issues For Fall Board Meetings
20 Jul 2020
As boards plan for third-quarter meetings amid the continuing uncertainty resulting from the COVID‑19 pandemic, review at least three agenda items for those meetings below. Each focuses on overlapping legal, compliance and reputational risks that the pandemic has amplified.
1. As businesses reopen and workers return to the office while the pandemic continues, how will management protect employee and consumer health?
This broad question has many necessary subparts. Will, or has, management reviewed and implemented guidance on reopening from Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other relevant governmental sources?
2. What is management’s plan for responding to the DOJ’s June changes to guidance on evaluating corporate compliance plans?
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice tweaked its nonbinding evaluation of corporate compliance programs for the fourth time during the Trump administration. None of these revisions adds much to existing governance and compliance wisdom.
3. What role should ESG principles have in the company’s operations?
For some time, boards and their advisers have been discussing highly publicized pronouncements about promoting stakeholder governance. This is a potentially revolutionary concept. Yet under the Delaware General Corporate Law, which governs the majority of U.S. companies, “no constituency other than stockholders is given any power,” as no less a commentator than then-Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine Jr. has written.
Delta to Appoint More Black Board Members ‘Over the Next Couple of Years,’ CEO Says
20 Jul 2020
Delta CEO Ed Bastian says he is “ashamed” that he has not paid more attention to fostering diversity within the airline’s executive leadership roles and will look at adding more Black members to its board of directors “over the next couple of years.”
Corporate America is — once again — facing questions about a staggering lack of diversity amongtop brass after demonstrators filled the streets of major US cities for weeks to protest racial injustices. Despite years of conversations about workplace inclusion and various diversity programs, the disparity remains stark.
Waystar Appoints Ursula Burns to Board of Directors
20 Jul 2020
Waystar, a leading provider of revenue cycle technology for the healthcare industry, announced the appointment of Ursula Burns, retired Chair and CEO of VEON Ltd. and Xerox Corporation, to its board of directors.
An accomplished business leader and long-time board member for a number of blue-chip technology companies, Burns brings a wealth of experience helping businesses scale. She served as CEO of Xerox Corporation from 2009 to 2016 where she spearheaded the largest acquisition in Xerox history and subsequently led the company through a successful separation into two independent publicly traded companies.
Dine Brands Global, Inc. Appoints Michael Hyter as Member of Board of Directors
20 Jul 2020
The Board of Directors of Dine Brands Global, Inc. announced the appointment of Michael Hyter as a new independent member of its Board of Directors.
Hyter, 63, served as Managing Partner of the Korn Ferry International, Washington D.C. office since 2012 and played an instrumental role in growing the breadth of their D.C. operation. He was recently appointed Chief Diversity Officer for Korn Ferry International.
California Bill Would Force Companies To Give Board Seats To Minority Candidates
20 Jul 2020
Earlier this month, a bill that would set up mandatory minority quotas on California company board of directors was heavily amended once again as it awaits a hearing in the Assembly.
AB 979 minority quota minimums
Assembly Bill 979, authored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), would require companies to impose strict minimums on the number of African-American, Hispanic, and Native American board members a company must have. For companies with fewer than 4, then 1 member must come from one of those minority groups. For companies with between 4 and 8 board seats they must have at least 2 minority held seats, with any larger boards than that having at least 3.
FMC Corporation Announces Election of John Davidson to Board of Directors
13 Jul 2020
FMC Corporation announced the election of Carol Anthony (“John”) Davidson to the company’s Board of Directors, effective July 13, 2020. He will serve as a member of the Board’s Audit and Sustainability Committees
Davidson brings to the FMC Board his extensive experience as a finance leader in global corporations across multiple industries. He has a strong track record of building and leading global teams and implementing governance and controls processes. He previously served as senior vice president, controller and chief accounting officer of Tyco International from 2004 to 2012 where he led financial reporting, internal controls and accounting policies and processes. Prior to Tyco, Davidson held senior global leadership positions in finance and related disciplines at Eastman Kodak Company and Dell Computer Corporation. He is a Certified Public Accountant and began his career at Arthur Andersen & Co.
These are the Biggest S&P 500 Companies Without a Single Black Board Member
07 Jul 2020
When former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault left the board of Facebook and was nominated to Berkshire Hathaway’s board, he became the first African American director recruited to Warren Buffett’s iconic conglomerate.
That means Berkshire’s name will no longer appear on Black Enterprise’s annual list of S&P 500 companies that have yet to elect a single Black board member.
The remaining long list includes several household names, including Gap Inc., Chipotle, and Kraft Heinz. The 15 biggest (by market value) S&P 500 companies on the list still without any Black board members are identified below.
Shake Shack Appoints Tristan Walker to Board of Directors
07 Jul 2020
Shake Shack Inc. announced the appointment of Tristan Walker to its Board of Directors, effective June 18. Walker has been named to the Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee of the Board and will work closely with management on Shake Shack’s environmental, social and corporate governance. A skilled executive with a wealth of experience in leading companies and building brands with an eye toward authenticity and inclusivity, Walker will become the tenth member of Shake Shack’s Board of Directors.
Bill Would Impose Minimum Number Of “Directors From An Underrepresented Community”
07 Jul 2020
Similar to SB 826, corporations will be required to have a minimum of one director from an underrepresented community no later than the close of the 2021 calendar year. By the close of the 2022 calendar year, the minimum numbers would be as follows:
Three, if the corporation’s number of directors is nine or more;
Two, if the corporation’s number of directors is more than four but fewer than nine; and
One, if the corporation’s number of directors is four or fewer.
The bill would also impose similar reporting requirements on the Secretary of State and subject violators to significant fines.
The bill defines a “director from an underrepresented community” to mean an individual who is African-American, Hispanic, or Native American.
The legislature goes into summer recess today and will reconvene on July 13. J.R. 51(b)(2). AB 979 has been assigned to the Senate Committe
Ex-Xerox CEO Ursula Burns: Companies Should ‘Improve Representation for Women and for Blacks’ or be Forced to Meet Targets
07 Jul 2020
Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns is calling on leaders in corporate America to look at the racial imbalances within their own companies amid their statements of support for protesters fighting against racial injustice.
In a recent interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” Burns, who was the first Black woman to serve as a Fortune 500 CEO, says that a huge part of racial inequality within corporate America starts at the board level. She points out that “most of the boards still have zero or one African American” members on their team and that “pressure in that area can help to speed up progress and transitions for companies.”
American Express Makes History With The First Black Woman On Its Executive Committee
07 Jul 2020
American Express named President of Strategic Partnerships Glenda McNeal to its Executive Committee this week, making the veteran executive the first Black woman to sit on the Committee
During her more 30 years at American Express, McNeal has served in a number of roles across sales and client management, business development, and marketing and strategy. In her current role, she leads strategy and negotiations for key partnerships with the largest e-commerce, travel, technology, and retail companies. Squire added that McNeal has “overseen the growth of our relationships with our largest and most critical partners, including Delta, Marriott, Hilton, PayPal and Amazon.”
Exclusive: Levi Strauss & Co. Unveils Diversity Plans, Pledges to Appoint a Black Board Member
07 Jul 2020
Levi Strauss & Co. has joined the ranks of businesses that are celebrating Juneteenth as an official paid company holiday worldwide.
The jeans maker also pledged today to fill a position it calls “head of diversity, inclusion, and belonging,” to add an African American person to the board of directors, and to strive to have 50% of candidates interviewing for jobs be people of color. In addition, Levi Strauss & Co. plans to share its employee diversity data and subsequent updates and teach all employees about racial equity.
Only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S are black
David Steward is the chairman of World Wide Technology (WWT).
American engineer and business executive Don Thompson is mostly known for his tenure as McDonald’s chief executive from 2012 through to 2015. Thompson left McDonald’s in 2015 to join Beyond Meat’s board of directors.
Goldman Sachs Starts Diverse Board Member Policy for Handling IPOs
07 Jul 2020
Corporations have been taking a hard look at the diversity within their ranks, facing pressure from customers, their employees and shareholders.
Goldman Sachs is starting a new policy: It won’t help a company with its initial public offering unless the company’s board has at least one diverse member. Next year, it will require at least two.
When calling for more diversity on corporate boards, Goldman Sachs is talking about people from chronically underrepresented groups — whether due to gender identity, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity.
The most recent public outcry for racial equity and genuine inclusion started in my home city of Minneapolis and has since spread around the world. This movement dramatically increased the pressure on corporate boards to better reflect the societies in which their businesses operate. The pressure came from employees, investors, communities, and customers.
There’s no question that boardroom diversity—in terms both of race and gender—has made some progress. Among companies listed on the S&P 500, there are no longer any all-male boards. In 2019, women made up nearly half of the S&P 500’s newly-appointed directors, and 10% were women of color.
But progress has been too slow to meet many stakeholders’ rising expectations.
Fewer Black Executives Were Added to S&P 500 Boards Over the Past Year, a New Analysis Shows
30 Jun 2020
A new analysis from Spencer Stuart shows that Blacks only accounted for 11% of new directors over the past year.
People of color make up just 20% of all board members at those firms.
One hopeful piece of data shows that diversity leads to more diversity, with 71% of companies with minority directors having two or more.
According to the 2020 S&P 500 Board Diversity Report from executive search firm Spencer Stuart, nearly all of the top 200 publicly traded firms have minority directors. However, people of color make up only 20% of all board members at those firms; up just 1 percentage point from last year.
Black Executives Are Sharing Their Experiences of Racism, Many for the First Time
30 Jun 2020
Many in the top ranks of American business say now is the time to speak out after years of keeping silent.
For Kamau Witherspoon, it was the night that police arrived at his Minneapolis home, guns pointed at him, shortly after a jog. For Mike McGrew, it was the realization that a manager was tailing him as he shopped at a store supplied by the company where he’s an executive. For Kim Seymour, it was the way she instinctively holds merchandise aloft in clothing stores to make it clear that she’s not shoplifting.
Read the full article at WSJ.com here (*subscription required).
Reddit Names New African-American Board Member
30 Jun 2020
Y Combinator partner Michael Seibel has been named to Reddit’s board of directors.
The move comes after Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian quit the board, calling on Reddit to name a Black candidate in his place.
Ohanian said the change was “long overdue” and said his decision was spurred “as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: ‘What did you do?'”
Seibel has been a partner at Y Combinator since 2014 and serves as CEO of its accelerator program. He cofounded Justin.tv, which would eventually become Twitch, and served as the CEO of video app SocialCam.
Beyond Commitment: Improving Black Leadership In Corporate America
12 Jun 2020
America has a long history of racial inequality and injustice. But as the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” This week, we seem to finally be at an inflection point when the status quo is no longer acceptable. Our country is questioning long-held beliefs (both conscious and unconscious) about the lives and treatment of the Black community.
As it pertains specifically to Blacks and African Americans, let us look at some facts. According to Black Enterprise, 37% of the S&P 500 did not have a single black board member in 2019. In 2018, in Fortune 100 companies, there were 136 African American board members representing 11.1% of directors. For the Fortune 500, this number drops to 8.6%. Beyond the largest 500 companies, the numbers are significantly lower still as larger and more high-profile companies usually adopt best practices first.
“Being Black In Corporate America” Deserves A Response
12 Jun 2020
The Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) recently released a study entitled “Being Black in Corporate America.” The findings of the study make it clear that corporate America has a significant human capital issue with potential risk overtones, an issue that should be addressed with concrete steps to be taken by boards of directors and members of senior management. The study was based upon survey data collected by the National Opinion Research Center at The University of Chicago. The study was sponsored by some of the largest public corporations and professional firms in the U.S.
Among the findings were:
Representation of black professionals in leadership still lags far behind college graduation rates.
The majority of black professionals have experienced racial prejudice at work, in higher percentages than Latino and Asian professionals.
One in five black professionals feel that someone of their race/ethnicity would never achieve a top position at their companies.
More than one in three black employees intend to leave and black employees are 30% more likely to intend to leave than white employees.
Less than half of all professionals — regardless of race or ethnicity — think their companies have effective diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts.
Activists Can Push Board Diversity Because Institutions Are Listening
12 Jun 2020
Wall Street is wondering if boardroom diversity will be the next issue activist shareholders take up.
Activists have tended to focus on capital structure and (lack of) growth when pursuing companies. Board diversity—whether it be racial or gender—typically comes into play when there have been glaring absences on boards. L Brands (ticker: LB), for example, was called out last year for having too few women on a board when its customers are predominantly female.
People are pissed, and I understand why. For far too long, we’ve seen acts of racial injustice and reacted casually. That has finally taken a very necessary turn.
What will it take to capture a portion of that outrage and channel it toward African-American injustice in the boardroom?
Years of exclusion of African-Americans from corporate boards must end and it needs to end now.
The percentage of African-Americans on the boards of the largest public companies in the United States has edged up slightly in the last two years. I emphasize slightly, but let’s be honest, most corporate directors continue to be white men.
Why does this matter? Why should we care?
Diverse board representation is important because Boards drive so many of the decisions that impact how billions of dollars are spent and invested. Board members hire and fire CEOs and ensure they make decisions that can impact millions of African-American livelihoods. Boards are the CEO’s boss.
More directly, they can help improve the number of CEOs of color and C-Suite executives of color. So where is the outrage about these paltry numbers?
The Alliance for Board Diversity, which advocates for broader demographic inclusion in boardrooms, and the professional services firm Deloitte, shows that women and minorities occupied 38.6 percent of board seats at Fortune 100 companies last year, compared with 35.9 percent in 2016.
For most people, that’s like getting 30 more dollars a month in your paycheck. A welcome improvement but nothing that is going to change your life.
The Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent organization of black senior executives, continues to be on the front lines of this battle and now the Congressional Black Caucus has joined the fight. But why is this not generating more public outrage?
People, African-Americans particularly, need to have a full understanding of the significance of African-American’s being active on boards
I think Arnold Donald, an African-American, who serves as president and CEO of Carnival Corp. & plc and corporate director of Bank of America, said it best. “The reason diversity matters is that if they’re shareholders or investors, you want the company to be successful over time. Diversity does matter when it comes to results. Secondly, communities thrive when businesses thrive. Any community that’s had a major business fail knows it affects everything—quality of life, education, arts, recreation, you name it. And then the third reason is one of social justice. You don’t want anybody being disenfranchised, feeling like they don’t have opportunity.”
The opportunities of which he speaks are endless and can create more wealth in our communities. They include hiring, training, and promotion of employees; procurement of suppliers; and philanthropic giving to charities and causes.
So yes, I’ll March for the many injustices that have become far too frequent. But I’ll use my proxy vote for the many companies in which I invest to raise the issue of diversity on boards and senior leadership among those same companies.
What will you do?
Reddit Co-Founder Ohanian Resigns From Board, Urges Company To Replace Him With A Black Candidate
05 Jun 2020
– Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced his resignation from the company’s board, saying he was stepping down and urging the company to replace him with a black person.
– Ohanian also committed to using future gains from his Reddit stock to serve the black community and focus on curbing racial hate.
Ohanian, who is married to professional tennis player Serena Williams, also committed to using future gains from his Reddit stock to serve the black community and focus on curbing racial hate. To start, Ohanian said he would donate $1 million to former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Does your company have a crisis management plan, and if so, has it helped your company weather the pandemic?
Are your companies providing you and your fellow directors with enough information about crises when they first surface?
Are boards concerned about conflicts of interest involving company management involved in investigations?
Once a crisis is over, are your companies good at studying the results and adopting lessons learned.
In responding to a crisis, how important is diversity on the board—of thought, background and professional experience?
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?
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.
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.
Willie Davis Remembered As A Hero By Employees, African American Pioneer on Corporate Boards
20 Apr 2020
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.
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.
Earl Graves, Sr., Founder Of Black Enterprise, Passes Away At 85
07 Apr 2020
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
Ken Chenault Leaving Facebook Board; Appointed First Black Berkshire Hathaway Director
17 Mar 2020
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.
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.
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.
The Overwhelming Advantages Of Being A Social Media-Savvy Board Member
18 February 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Crystal E. Ashby Named The Executive Leadership Council’s Interim President And CEO
13 Jan 2020
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.
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.
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.
This Black Woman Was A Corporate Board Activist—40 Years Ago!
30 Dec 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thasunda Brown Duckett Joins NIKE, Inc. Board of Directors
15 Nov 2019
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.
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.
Untimely Death Of Bernard Tyson Inspires Tributes To A Leader In Healthcare And Corporate Diversity
15 Nov 2019
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.
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.
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.”
Former Bet Chairman Debra Lee: Keep Pressure On Corporations To Expand Black Board Representation
21 Oct 2019
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.”
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 Black Enterprise’s feature Carnival Corp. Ceo Arnold Donald: We Must Expand Pipeline To Increase Black CEOshere.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Former BET CEO Debra Lee Appointed to AT&T Board of Directors
31 July 2019
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.”
James D. White Appointed to the Board of Directors of The Simply Good Foods Company
25 Jul 2019
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.
OPINION: How to Write a Board Resume That Markets You as a ‘Next-Gen’ Voice
26 June 2019
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.
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.”
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.
A Coalition of CEOs Wants to Get Boards to Commit to Diversity
17 June 2019
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.
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.
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
– 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
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.
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.
Teresa White Elected to Synovus Board of Directors
2 May 2019
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.
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.
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.
Facebook Taps Peggy Alford as Its First Black Female Board Member
12 Apr 2019
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.
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.
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.
‘The Jig Is Up’: Maxine Waters Warns Corporate America About Its Lack Of Diversity
31 Mar 2019
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.
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.
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
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
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.