The good news about this current wave of board diversity advocacy is that it appears to be achieving at least some results. Survey data reveals that boards pinpoint diversity as a top (and in some cases the top) recruiting priority. And while the overall board diversity percentages continue to be stagnant, a deeper dig into the numbers suggest a subtle shift occurring with respect to gender diversity. However, that shift has not spilled over to directors of color.
Instead, an even digger dig into the numbers suggest a puzzling, if not disturbing, trend. Consider this: 30% of new directors are women, but only 12% of people of color are new directors, a drop from 18% in 2013. What accounts for the differential? Certainly a variety of factors, but here are some other statistics that deserve some thought.
- 71% of boards say that recruiting a woman director is a priority, but only 64% say that recruiting a minority is a priority. (2014 PWC Survey)
- 61% of women directors describe gender diversity as very important, but only 42% of women directors describe racial diversity as very important, and only 24% of men view racial diversity as very important (2104 Stuart Spencer Index).
- 5% of S&P 500 boards have no female directors, but 15% of the top 200 S&P 500 have no directors of color (2104 Stuart Spencer Index).
I do not mean to suggest that the momentum related to enhancing gender diversity is not positive. I also do not mean to suggest that it is inappropriate for groups to push for or emphasize certain forms of diversity. And I certainly do not mean to suggest that we should make diversity a zero-sum game whereby women and people of color are fighting for the same single seat or otherwise somehow fighting against one another. However, I do mean to say that I am disturbed if the result of our efforts at enhancing board diversity is that we are left with the impression that directors of color are somehow less valuable or less desirable than women.
The “What’s The Return On Equality?” Mini-Symposium: