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More Black Women Join Corporate Boards

From 2021 to 2022, large public companies added more Black women to their corporate boards than during any other year in the past 15 years, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: Following George Floyd’s murder, firms have intensified their diverse hiring efforts.

  • “As of April 30, 2022, 46 of the 395 new directors named since May 1, 2021, or 12%, were Black women, up from 2% in 2008.”
  • This increase was driven by company-driven initiatives as well as mandates from state legislators, regulators and investors (though some of these directives have been rolled back).

A growing movement: As companies continue to include Black women at the table, Black women are building networks to meet the demand.

  • Merline Saintil and Robin Washington, who between them hold board seats at Alphabet Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and Gitlab Inc., started the nonprofit Black Women on Boards in response to the number of requests they received for recommendations of experienced women of color.
  • The two women “initially convened 18 people through word-of-mouth in October 2020. Just over two years later, the group has grown to 200 Black businesswomen around the world. The group has helped place 30 Black women on private, public and advisory boards, Ms. Saintil says.”

A journey, not a destination: At last year’s Black Corporate Directors Conference, participants were thrilled with the progress Black women have made in gaining board positions, but they noted there was still work to do.

  • Black Corporate Directors Conference Founder and Ariel Investment co-CEO John W. Rogers Jr. says he has noticed a significant increase in Black female directors in recent years, as compared to previous years when he was “struck by the fact that the vast majority of the Black directors were men.”
  • “Still, while 99% of directors who attended the conference said diversity, equity and inclusion are very important or somewhat important to their board’s leadership team, only 77% of female directors said their board addresses diversity-related concerns in a way that is meaningful to them.”

What we’re doing: The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education partner, has been taking steps to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the manufacturing workforce.

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