By Sheryl Hilliard Tucker, Executive Director, The Board Challenge

March 26, 2021

While much of the country is caught up in March Madness and the countdown to the Final Four, the push to diversify corporate boardrooms continues to unveil a wealth of Black talent across all industries. The pipeline myth is officially busted. We are encouraged by the outstanding new Black directors joining companies of all sizes, but we’re continuing to drive more organizations to take action – and fast.

Since The Board Challenge launched in September 2020, 13 of our Pledge Partners and unprecedented numbers of Nasdaq, NYSE, Russell 3000 and newly minted public companies and private firms have appointed Black board directors. Over the past decade, Black directorship often felt like it was climbing in slow motion. Significant barriers stymied change and a limited group of heavy-hitting Black directors, including two of The Board Challenge’s most ardent Supporters, Les Brun and Shellye Archambeau, were tapped for open seats.

What changed in 2020? No doubt the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent reckoning on systemic racism kick-started unprecedented momentum toward stronger board representation. And like Brun and Archambeau, many highly respected Black directors are now publicly fighting to increase the pool of Black leaders and place the next generation of board-ready candidates into new roles.

Still, this is not the time to take a break. The Board Challenge encourages our Partners and Supporters to lean in, double down and keep introducing your colleagues and networks to the benefits of board diversity. The Board Challenge founders – Brad Gerstner, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy and Guy Primus – connect with CEOs and investors every week to drive this movement forward.

The Board Challenge is ready to do more, and we need your help

  • Contact The Board Challenge team to set up an introductory meeting and explore ways to leverage your professional network to help make corporate boards more diverse
  • Visit our new website and share it with your network
  • Refer board-ready leaders to our team so we can recommend top talent to our Partners
  • Engage theBoardlist and Valence to curate a free slate of board candidates for your organization

Recent board diversity trends and highlights

  • An expanded bench of players stepped up their advocacy. Corporate America, investors, social justice organizations, elected officials and the media are leveraging their muscle, using new tools and finding common ground in the movement for board diversity. Bold moves from companies like Goldman Sachs and The Carlyle Group to increase board representation are game-changing strategies and hard for other companies to ignore.
  • Powerhouse thought leaders McKinsey, PwC, Deloitte, Diligent, Harvard and others are releasing and reissuing a torrent of compelling research that makes a hard-to-deny business case linking corporate performance with board diversity.
  • Nasdaq leveraged a massive body of empirical research in its proposal to the SEC to make board diversity a requirement for listing. NYSE continues this work through its Initiative to Advance Board Diversity. Both organizations are Charter Partners of The Board Challenge.
  • California Assembly Bill 979, requiring California-based companies to have at least one director from an underrepresented community, has inspired New York, New Jersey and other states to take action.
  • The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and the Thirty Percent Coalition are ensuring Black executives and corporate America keep diverse leadership a C-suite and board priority. ELC is a major feeder of the board diversity pipeline, as evidenced by its regular board announcements on LinkedIn.
  • The media is shining light on often unspoken barriers to progress and opportunities for success in building fuller board representation. Black Enterprise’s Boardroom Chats – which will feature our co-founder, Guy Primus, next month – dissect these complex challenges. And check out SAVOY for a steady stream of newly elected Black directors.