By Norm Bond
White men still overwhelmingly dominate corporate boards with few overall gains for minorities and a significant loss of seats for African-American men. That’s the status according to the 2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census, released this week. In spite of the growing diversity in America, the boards of directors of Fortune 500 companies are increasingly male and primarily white.
The Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), is a collaboration of five leading organizations—Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), and The Prout Group, Inc.
According to their report, as of last year white men made up 72.9 percent of board members at the nation’s 100 largest companies, up from 71.2 percent in 2004, when the board last analyzed the data. When the board expanded the census to look at the nation’s 500 largest companies by revenue, the results were even less diverse: white men held about 77 percent of board seats.
The remaining seats were held by white women (13 percent), minority men (7 percent) and minority women (3 percent), based on public documents provided by the Fortune 500 companies in filings.
Those involved in the study appeared shocked. “With so many qualified women and minority candidates available for board service, it is staggering to find that no real progress has been made in the past six years to advance minorities and women into the boardroom,” said Ilene H. Lang, Chair of ABD and President and CEO of Catalyst. “Research has shown that diverse teams produce better results. In particular, Catalyst research revealed that more diverse boards, on average, are linked with better financial performance. Corporate America has the opportunity to seize the advantage that a more diverse board can yield in this increasingly competitive global economy.”
What are the contributors to the backwards slide in diversity on the boards of America’s largest corporations? Arnold Donald, president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council, a professional network of African-American executives said, “the biggest contributor is just lack of proactive intervention.”
For more information on this study and the Alliance for Board Diversity, please visit www.theabd.org