Board Diversity Report from SpencerStuart

A new report on board diversity from SpencerStuart finds more rhetoric, less progress. While it attributes that discrepancy to “low turnover,” that suggests that making board composition decisions is not a perpetual obligation and just because someone is a good director does not mean it is not time to replace him (it is usually him) with a better one.

The push for greater board diversity continues amid ongoing pressure from investors, employees and other stakeholders. Feeding stakeholder interest in the issue are the rela- tively low numbers of women and directors from historically underrepresented racial, ethnic and LGBTQ+ communities in U.S. boardrooms. Boards are responding, with 72% of the incoming S&P 500 class of directors coming from historically underrepresented groups — defined as individuals who self-iden- tify in one or more of the following categories: women, underrepresented racial/ethnic group or the LGBTQ+ community.

However, due to persistent low boardroom turnover, the addition of new directors from these historically underrepresented groups has had little impact on the overall diversity of S&P 500 boards. Year-over-year percentages grew only modestly from 2021, when 30% of directors were women and 21% were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Today, 32% of all S&P 500 directors are women and 22% are from historically underrepre- sented racial and ethnic groups — defined as Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic or Latino/a, two or more races/ethnicities, Ameri- can Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

Some good news:

S&P 500 boards added 395 new independent directors during the 2022 proxy season, a decline from 456 last year. Nearly half — 46% — of new directors are Black/African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino/a, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or multiracial, less than 1% disclosed as LGBTQ+, and 46% are women. Together, directors from these historically underrepresented groups account for 72% of all new directors, the same as last year.

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