New Report Finds Corporate Directors Becoming More Diverse - Jerusha Stewart

Two studies conducted in 2021 by the Conference Board, ESGauge, and Spencer Stuart found that a third of new independent board members for S&P 500 companies were Black, up from 11% the year before, and 7% were Latino, up from 3%. While this increase in diversity represents definite progress, more needs to be done to have real gains in the Boardroom. In October, I joined Brad Smith of Cheddar News to discuss how we can create a more inclusive workplace.

Watch or read my thoughts below.

“We want to talk about this and to keep talking about this because there are a number of equity accelerators that are here at play and driving this movement of board diversity forward. One big one is the investment outcomes. The fact that companies do perform; racial equity drives 36 percent better performance for companies than their peers.”

“The gender makeup of boards has definitely taken a flying leap over the past five years, due to initiatives like Take Your Seat, 2020 Women on Boards, the UNC, and the Director Diversity Initiative program. All of these have been accelerants in terms of giving the boards more access to resources, and candidates, and boardroom training.”

“Every company is at a different place on their equity journey. We are going to see everything from companies like our partner- PNC Bank, which has full disclosure on their website of their workforce and their workforce diversity. The same goes for smaller companies that may not have weighed in on this journey yet. They need to have resources and policies and procedures in place to act. This isn’t something that the companies are going necessarily to do. They are afraid of making the wrong move, saying the wrong thing, and there is a conformability factor that we have to take into account here.”

“Transparency has become a huge equity accelerant in this arena because until you know how the companies are showing up, you can’t really measure and track their progress. The SEC and Nasdaq have placed value on diversity..”

“Take Your Seat is an equity accelerator. We have put together one of the first communities where Black board directors, leaders can network with white companies and CEOs and get in — we bridge that networking gap between the two groups to make it possible for the board to show up in a different way. Up until this point they’ve been fishing in the same pond. So of course, they’re going to get the same results. The majority of white directors. This is a new model going forward for them to have better access to the candidates. And on the other side of this, to drive their inclusivity, training, and metrics within that boardroom. Until you create a sense of belonging, diversity isn’t enough. It’s not enough to focus on the numbers. You have to create that sense of camaraderie, which drives the consensus in the boardroom.”

“You want the employees at the senior level to take action. They have a place, they have a role in what’s happening right now. Companies that elevate their workforce by enrolling them in board readiness training, having board governance training available to them, and giving them memberships to organizations like Take Your Seat, (that will help to educate and inform them about the board service journey) are so important. Further, companies need to take away restrictions that disallow their top-level talent from taking advantage of sitting on boards. That too is keeping underrepresented groups out of the boardroom.”

About Jerusha Stewart: Jerusha is a mission-focused entrepreneur creating opportunities for a more equitable future. With a vast background in law, sales, public relations and marketing, Jerusha is well-versed in creating innovative problem solving initiatives and implementing successful communication strategies. Most recently, Jerusha has dedicated herself to her latest creation, the Take Your Seat organization, an organization working towards bettering diversity in corporate board seats and creating a pipeline of Black talent.

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