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It is sought that more diverse executives can occupy those chairs. Photo: Pixabay.

Vista Equity Partners, NACD and SHRM join forces to increase diverse representation on the board

The organizations join forces to build a diverse pipeline of potential board of directors candidates for companies across all industries.

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The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 23,000 board members, has joined Vista Equity Partners (Vista), a leading global investment firm focused exclusively on enterprise software, data and technology, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a global trade association supporting HR and business executive members, to launch a program to increase the number of diverse representatives on corporate boards.

What Does It Consist Of?

With a focus on general business, human resources, and committee preparation, the recently launched program offers people from underrepresented backgrounds access to 12 months of detailed curriculum tailored to preparing for board service on compensation, nomination and governance committees.

As SHRM takes the lead in identifying and hiring diverse, high-performing executives, Vista and NACD are teaming up to equip the cohort with a deep understanding of the responsibilities associated with effectively performing a board role, thereby ensuring exposure to corporate board opportunities across broader ecosystems.

These new efforts build on a program established last year by Vista and the NACD that seeks to increase diversity among professionals seeking to serve on public and private company board audit committees. The first class of this program, announced in November 2021, is in the process of obtaining NACD Director Certification.

“Paramount to Vista’s DE&I efforts is building a diverse pipeline of talent within the Firm, our portfolio, and the business community at large. By working with the NACD and SHRM to establish this new program, we are helping to create a diverse pipeline of talent for board oversight roles, which, alongside our other programs and initiatives, will ensure diverse backgrounds and perspectives are represented at all levels of an organization,” said Bessie Watts, Director of Vista’s External Board of Directors Program.

Looking for the Diverse Board

The new alliance highlights the figures highlighted by the 2021 US Spencer Stuart Board Index:

  • During the proxy year 2021, the overall representation of some demographic groups on S&P 500 boards was lower than their representation in the U.S. population (42%).
  • People of color made up just 21% of all S&P 500 directors.
  • 49 S&P 500 companies (10%) were led by Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, or multiracial CEOs.
  • 8% of independent board chairs and 10% of top independent board directors were from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.

“NACD has been at the forefront of building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive boardroom, and we are excited to continue this work through our partnership with Vista. With the new program, we will offer executives from a diverse set of backgrounds access to our premier director education, including the opportunity to earn their NACD Directorship Certification® designation, continuing education sessions, extensive networking opportunities, and access to NACD’s leading governance research and resources,” pointed out Peter Gleason, NACD president and CEO. 

For his part, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer and External Board Member at iCIMS, a Vista Equity Partners’ portfolio company, highlighted: “It’s a privilege to partner with the NACD and Vista on this new pipeline program that will empower the talented but underrepresented individuals in our business community from diverse backgrounds and create expanded opportunity for the company boards on which they serve.”

“Now more than ever, companies are beginning to realize that it is critical that we have representation from HR around the board table. Diversity across perspectives and backgrounds as a strategic imperative is a necessity in the boardroom and gives companies a distinct competitive advantage,” added Taylor.

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