Study: Racial diversity stagnated on U.S. corporate boards

first_imgdiversity iStock.com / RLT_Images Many U.S. companies have rushed to appoint Black members to their boards of directors since racial justice protests swept the country last year.But in the two preceding years, progress on increasing racial diversity on boards stagnated, a new study revealed Tuesday. Black men even lost ground. Catastrophe bond market gains momentum Facebook LinkedIn Twitter U.S. action on climate benefits banks, asset managers: Moody’s The study, conducted by the Alliance of Board Diversity and the consulting firm Deloitte, points to the steep deficit companies face when it comes to fulfilling pledges to diversity in their ranks. An overwhelming 82.5% of directors among Fortune 500 company boards are white, according to the Missing Pieces Report: A Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards.The study suggests that, until the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd galvanized a national reckoning on systemic racism, attention to racial diversity took something of a backseat to gender equality in boardrooms.Between July 2020 and May 2021, some 32% of newly appointed board members in the S&P 500 were Black, according to an analysis by ISS Corporate Solutions, which advises companies on improving shareholder value and reducing risk. That was a leap compared to 11% during the previous year.But the time before then shows a sudden shift in priorities. The Missing Pieces Report found that the number of women serving on Fortune 500 boards rose 4 percentage points to 26.5% between 2018 and June of 2020 — a faster pace of progress than the 2% increase over the preceding two years.In contrast, the number of racial minorities on Fortune 500 boards rose by just above a percentage point. That was a slower pace than the 2% increase during the previous two years. In a telling finding, the number of Black men on Fortune 500 boards fell by 1.5% between 2018 and June 2020, even as the representation of Black women rose by 18%.Attention to gender equality did bolster the ranks of minority women on Fortune 500 boards, though their numbers remain small at 6%, according to the census. The number of minority men remained virtually unchanged at just under 12%.With racial minorities holding so few seats to begin with, the findings underscore the need to pick up the pace of change, said Linda Akutagawa, chair for the Alliance for Board Diversity.Asian, Hispanic and Black women directors made the biggest percentage increases since 2018. But the raw number of seats each of those groups gained paled in comparison to the 209 seats gained by white women, according to the study. White women held three new seats for every new seat occupied by a woman from a racial minority.The Board Diversity Census based its findings on a two-year review of public filings through June 30, 2020. During that period, companies responded to pressure to appoint more women to their boards. California passed a law in 2017 requiring publicly traded firms headquartered in the state to have at least two or three women directors by 2021, depending on the size of their boards.Over the past year, more pressure has arisen for boards to focus on racial diversity. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law last year giving companies until the end of 2021 to have at least one board member from an underrepresented ethnic community, or who identify as LGBT. In December, Nasdaq filed a proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt new listing rules requiring companies to publicly disclose their board diversity statistics.More than a dozen companies, including Zillow and M.M.LaFleur, signed a pledge in September to add at least one Black director to their boards within a year.Carey Oven, national managing partner of Deloitte’s Center for Board Effectiveness, said that kind of rapid shift shows that progress on diversity is matter of corporate will, rather than a lack of qualified minority candidates.“It’s really a choice for boards to take steps to become more diverse,” Oven said.In April, 140 racial justice leaders published a letter in the Financial Times demanding that the country’s largest asset managers oppose all-white boards at this year’s shareholder meetings. But the letter also called for them to oppose boards “with arguably token representation by a single person of color.”“Boards draw a circle around everyone who is not a white male and call themselves diverse,” said Eli Kasargod-Staub, executive director of Majority Action, a nonprofit group that sponsored the letter. “That way of framing it often obscures that fact that they only have one person of color on their boards.”In December, Majority Action, along with the Service Employees International Union, released a report showing that 56 of the S&P 500 companies had all-white boards as of November 2020. The asset manager BlackRock voted to approve the entire board at 52 of those companies at their 2020 shareholder meetings, according to the report, which cited research from ISS Analytics and public filings. Vanguard voted to support the entire board at 51 of the companies.Some fund giants have acknowledged they have been slower to push boardrooms to appoint more people of color, compared to their advocacy to add more women. But many say the momentum is turning.BlackRock said this year that it’s raising its expectations for ethnic and gender diversity on corporate boards, and it voted against more than 130 boards in the early part of 2021 because of a lack of it. But it does not have a bright-line rule for how many people of color should be on a board, similar to how it expects U.S. companies to have at least two women on their board.Vanguard revised its proxy voting guidelines to warn it will vote against some board nominees at companies where lack of diversity is a concern. But a Vanguard spokeswoman said the investing giant believes “there is no one-size-fits-all mandate for board diversity” and will evaluate each board individually.State Street Global Advisors, the company behind the “Fearless Girl” statue that stared down the iconic charging bull statue near Wall Street, said it will start voting against the chair of the board nominating committee at S&P 500 companies next year if it doesn’t have at least one underrepresented minority. This year, it began voting against nominating committee chairs of companies that fail to disclose the racial and ethnic composition of their boards.“We did see that progress was not being made quickly enough,” said Benjamin Colton, State Street’s global co-head of asset stewardship. “It was difficult for us to even gauge progress because we did not have that disclosure available.” Global insurers’ focus on ESG will impact energy sector: report Alexandra OlsonStan Choe Related news Share this article and your comments with peers on social media Keywords Diversity,  Disclosure,  ESG last_img read more

Boris Said readies for final Monster Energy Series race

first_imgRELATED: Boris Said has a blast with fansWATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – For years, the loyal “Said Heads” have robustly crowded the turns and grandstands at Watkins Glen International to cheer on their favorite driver, Boris Said, a champion road racer often hired to race stock cars on the NASCAR road courses.But in a much more understated presence Sunday morning at the famous track, Said confirmed the I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at The Glen (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race will be his final NASCAR start.Thanking the crowd during a race morning gathering, the gasps from his fans were audible as one of NASCAR’s most beloved competitors shared his news.The historic track honored Said, presenting the 54-year-old with a lovely glass bowl designed for him from the nearby Corning Glass factory. Raising the glass above his head, Said received a loud standing ovation hours before he went out to qualify the No. 33 Genesee Beer Chevrolet.“It was important to me [to make Watkins Glen his final NASCAR start] because this was where I did my first NASCAR race in 1998 and got to race Jimmy Spencer’s car,” Said said. “My crew chief that day, Donny Wingo, is here and some of the crew guys. This seems like my home track, the memories, the fans.“That’s why I wanted to do it here.”The appreciation is fully reciprocal.His fandom – in particular at Watkins Glen – is legendary and enthusiastic.“Growing up, all the road course ringers, I was so enamored by them,’” said Justin Rector, 26, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who made a special poster board sign to cheer on Said at The Glen. “I just love watching him show the guys how to wheel these things. He can even take a junk car and make the best. It’s beautiful. How can you not appreciate that?“I’m going to miss him so much. I’m glad I got to see his last one.’”RELATED: Career stats for Boris SaidSaid conceded the decision to call it a career became easier in recent years. He is an owner of the popular K1 Speed Indoor Go Karting tracks franchise, just started a vodka brand and owns a successful BMW dealership with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick.“You know how I came to it. … I’m really competitive and I love to drive and be a part of it and it’s not as much fun not being as competitive, so I told my wife, ‘I still love driving, but this year – even in just the last three weeks – I find myself thinking more about going dirt bike riding with my son and the new house we’re building in Utah,’” Said recalled.“I love those things. This Wednesday we’re going to Utah where we’re building a house. And we’re right in the middle of building a jet engine because that’s my [13-year old] son’s thing.”However, as his fans surrounded him in Watkins Glen victory circle, Said fully admits it will be an adjustment with no NASCAR races circled on his calendar.“I still love racing and it’s going to be hard to replace that,” he said. “That’s 31 years on the road, the dinner, the people, the fans. … Even without the racing it’s just that lifestyle and all your friends — like a family.”Said’s resume – even in limited starts – is impressive. He has long been a sort of road racing “guru” for NASCAR drivers eager to improve their road course racing skills. He worked with the late Dale Earnhardt and similarly has been a professor of sorts for the sport’s up-and-coming greats. His talent will be evident for years to come in the young racers he guides and tutors.“I love just driving,” Said said. “Driving a Cup car out of control just trying to muscle it around is just so much fun, getting a little scared and feeling the power.“NASCAR still has it where the driver makes a big difference and I will miss that.”His accomplishments on track in NASCAR are especially impressive considering his part-time involvement.Said won a pair of Monster Energy Series pole positions – one at Sonoma, California, road course but also in the 2006 July summer race on the Daytona International Speedway high banks, where he finished an impressive fourth place. A third-place finish here in Watkins Glen in 2005 is a career best, and he has eight top-10 career finishes.He won the 2010 XFINITY Series race at Montreal and claimed two poles and nine top-10s in that series. He also won the 1998 Camping World Truck Series race on the Sonoma, California, road course, won three pole positions and had nine top-10s in that series as well.Beyond NASCAR, Said was the 2002 Trans Am Champion and won the Rolex Sports Car Series GT-Class title in 2004. He claimed class victories in the 1997 and 1998 Rolex 24 at Daytona and in 1998 in the 12 Hours of Sebring.He is the first American to win the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. And he even competed in the X Games twice.“Back home where my friends don’t know anything about racing, they’d ask, ‘When are you going to retire?’ And I’d say, ‘When the phone doesn’t ring anymore.” Said said, smiling. “But it kept ringing and ringing. And it’s still ringing.“But at 55 (he turns that on Sept. 18), it can’t keep ringing. If I could write a script I’d say I’d like to do [sports cars at] Daytona [Rolex 24] and Sebring and Watkins Glen and Petit LeMans.“NASCAR for sure it’s over,” he said breaking into a grin. “Unless Chase Elliott gets sick and needs an old 55-year old to fill in. I’d do it just to help out.“I’m good like that.”last_img read more