NEW YORK, Sept. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Board Challenge today 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.
The Board Challenge launches with the support of companies and individuals representing a wide-array of industries and sectors including corporate, non-profit and training and education. These supporters include organizations such as the Executive Leadership Council, the NAACP and National Urban League who commit to supporting the mission and using their platforms to drive awareness and participation in the movement.
Founding Pledge Partners commit to adding at least one Black director to their respective boards in the next 12 months. Participants include: Accolade, Altimeter Growth Corp, Amperity, Bolster, Gusto, Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc., Heritage Environmental Services, HopSkipDrive, Kin, M.M.LaFleur, Nextdoor, PagerDuty, RealSelf, Ripple, Senreve, Vinyl Me, Please, and Zillow. The Board Challenge co-founders will check in with Founding Pledge Partners within six months and at 12 months to evaluate their progress in adding a Black director.
Charter Pledge Partners are organizations that already have at least one Black director and will continue to use their resources to accelerate change. Charter Pledge Partners play a critical role in driving visibility around the importance and value of increasing diversity at the boardroom level. Participants include: Avnet, Broadridge Financial Solutions, CDK Global, Cockroach Labs, Corning Incorporated, Elovee, Executive Leadership Council, Impact Capital Managers, Lightspeed, Lyft, Merck, Nasdaq, Nordstrom, Okta, Ranpak, Redfin, Ro, Sonos, Southern California Public Radio, SurveyMonkey, The New York Stock Exchange, The RealReal, Uber, United Airlines, Upstart, Verizon, and WW (formerly Weight Watchers).
Black leaders are underrepresented in America's public and private boardrooms. Approximately 66% of Fortune 500 company board members are white men and 18% of members are white women, while only 9% of members are Black men and women, according to a report by the Alliance for Board Diversity and Deloitte. And while many companies tout their commitment to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, progress at the boardroom level is limited. According to Black Enterprise, 187 S&P 500 companies, or about 37%, did not have any Black directors in 2019 – only a two percentage point improvement since 2018.
"America has been reminded again in tragic fashion that we must redouble our efforts to build a more inclusive society. Business leaders can't let this moment pass us by without playing our part and taking this tangible step to build a more diverse boardroom," said Brad Gerstner, founder and CEO of Altimeter Capital and co-founder of The Board Challenge. "As a next step, we are encouraging companies to take the pledge and add a Black director in the next 12 months. The Board Challenge is a movement to accelerate these changes and help companies tap into the energy and talents of all underrepresented groups."
True and full racial representation at the board level is in the best interest of companies, employees, customers and communities and helps to advance and support a more equitable society.
- Diverse boards of directors are 43% more likely than non-diverse boards to achieve financial performance above the national industry median for companies in the top quartile versus bottom quartile, according to McKinsey & Company's Delivering Through Diversity 2018 report.
- More than nine in 10 directors (94%) agree that board diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, according to PwC's 2019 Annual Corporate Directors Survey. Additionally, 87% said board diversity enhances board performance and 76% said it enhances company performance.
- More than half (53%) of investors say board diversity should be a top focus, according to a 2019 report from the EY Center for Board Matters.
As part of taking the pledge, partners commit to progress reports along the way, including six-month and one-year reporting on results with participants. The Board Challenge co-founders will provide partners with access to qualified talent to help in their search and recruitment of Black director candidates, while supporters will offer resources and training.
"One objection we hear is whether companies can find the kind of diverse board talent they are looking for. It is 2020 – it is not a pipeline problem, it is a perspective problem," said Guy Primus, CEO of Valence and co-founder of The Board Challenge. "Valence alone is connected to hundreds of board-ready leaders from every position imaginable."
"Another objection is that the focus on diverse candidates is too narrow. We know focus yields results and this is the start of a much bigger movement," said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder and chairman of theBoardlist and co-founder of The Board Challenge. "theBoardlist has been focused on diversifying boards since 2015 and we know that making the commitment to look outside one's network and dedicating the effort to be inclusive is ultimately what works."
Find more information about pledge participants and supporters, take the pledge and offer support at theboardchallenge.org.