Number of Fortune 500 Boards With Over 40 Percent Diversity Doubled Since 2012 [REPORT]

Key findings for the Fortune 500 include:

  •     African American/Black women gained 32 seats in 2018, an increase of 26.2 percent from 2016. African American/Black men gained 26 seats in 2018, an increase of 8.5 percent from 2016.
  •     Hispanic/Latino men gained 21 seats in 2018, an increase of 14.3 percent from 2016. Hispanic/Latina women gained four seats in 2018, an increase of 9.8 percent from 2016.
  •     Asian/Pacific Islander men gained 25 seats in 2018, an increase of 20.3 percent from 2016. Asian/Pacific Islander women gained 17 seats, an increase of 38.6 percent from 2016.
  •     The study also showed that boards more frequently will pull from a pool of existing minority board members instead of bringing in new directors. African American/Black women and Hispanic/Latinas hold “recycle rates” – the rate at which individuals serve on more than one board – of 1.39 and 1.36, respectively. The recycle rate of many minority groups increased from 2016 to 2018. African American/Black men hold the highest recycle rate of any group, 1.41 – whereas Caucasian/White men who have a recycle rate of 1.19.

“The increase in boardroom diversity over the last two years is encouraging, but we must not overlook that Caucasian/White men still hold 66 percent of all Fortune 500 board seats and 91.1 percent of chairmanships on those boards. Not only is this unrepresentative of the country’s current population, the more important issue is that we know from research that having a diverse board leads to better business results. This is a bottom-line issue,” said Linda Akutagawa, chair for the Alliance for Board Diversity and president and CEO, LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics). “We encourage corporate boards to continue to embrace the benefits of diverse board composition and further their efforts to match the changing demographics we are experiencing in this country today.”

The Fortune 100 in contrast is leading growth in the boardroom, outpacing the Fortune 500 with 38.6 percent of women and minorities holding board seats, compared with 34 percent in the Fortune 500.

Other key findings for the Fortune 100 include:

  •     In 2018, 19.5 percent of board seats in the Fortune 100 were held by minorities, though that is still a larger percentage than in the Fortune 500 (16 percent).
  •     African American/Black women and Asian/Pacific Islander women achieved the largest increase in board seats: 44.8 percent (13 seats) and 30.8 percent (four seats), respectively. Caucasian/White men saw a decrease of 23 seats, a decrease of 3 percent. Regardless of race, the census found an overall decrease of the number of men on boards, at 1.2 percent (11 seats lost).
  •     The total number of companies with greater than 40 percent diversity increased from 33 companies in 2016 to 46 companies in 2018. With the benchmark ABD has set (40 percent women and/or minorities on boards by 2020), the Fortune 100 is leading in achieving that milestone.

“More and more companies are realizing the significant benefits of having a diverse and highly-skilled board. The 2018 Missing Pieces Report demonstrates that while progress has been achieved, there is still much more work to do,” said Deb DeHaas, vice chairman and national managing partner, Deloitte Center for Board Effectiveness. “Boards can optimize their diversity by taking intentional actions to expand the pool of women and minority candidates, including reaching out to a broader set of professional networks and considering candidates with a variety of skills, backgrounds, and experiences.”

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