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Seeking greater diversity in companies. Photo: Patrick Sommer — Pixabay.

Findings of the latest ‘Missing Pieces’ report presented by the Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD) and Deloitte

To summarize, Fortune 500 boards must work to be more representative of the U.S. population.

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Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), in collaboration with Deloitte, recently released the seventh edition of 'Missing Pieces,' a biennial report that examines and chronicles the representation of women and individuals of diverse racial and ethnic groups on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

The study notes that while America's largest corporate boards and public companies have increased the level of diversity across gender, race and ethnicity, the rate of change still has plenty of room to grow.

Among the new data found, ABD and Deloitte underscore the need for a continued focus on making Fortune 500 boards more representative of the U.S. population.

Carey Oven, national managing partner of the Center for Board Effectiveness at Deloitte LLP, said in a press release:

The findings from this year’s report show gradual steps in the right direction, but at this pace, U.S. top corporate boards might not represent the nation’s population until 2060.

Seeking More Diverse Directories

The latest edition of the report analyzed data collected between 2020 and 2022, highlighting trends around some aspects of board diversity at Fortune-ranked companies.

Highlighting the disparities between these boards and the U.S. demographic, as well as variations in leadership diversity across industries, the study highlights progress and serves to inform the need for a more diverse board composition.

“Board diversity and inclusion isn’t only the right thing to do; it is a business imperative that builds broad stakeholder trust that ultimately can lead to better business outcomes,” added Oven.

Gradual Advancement of Women and Racial Ethnic Groups

Findings from this year's report reveal that while more than half of Fortune 500 board seats are still held by white men (55.3%), women and people from diverse racial and ethnic groups have registered gradual increases.

While in 2020 women held 26.5% of Fortune 500 board positions, in 2022 the figure rose to 30%.

Black/African American women experienced a 47% increase, gaining 86 board positions since 2020. Asian/Pacific Islander women gained 24 positions and saw a 27% increase. Hispanic/Latina women, in turn, saw an increase of 23.7%, climbing 14 seats.

“Women continue to lead the growth of board diversity, and this was a banner year for that momentum. Still, while crossing the critical mass threshold of 30% women on corporate boards is meaningful progress, we have a way to go until boards truly represent the population and the people they serve,” underscored Lorraine Hariton, president and CEO of Catalyst.

For their part, diverse racial and ethnic groups also continued to advance in the boardroom, raising the number of Fortune 500 board seats from 17.5% in 2020 to 22.2% in 2022.

In detail, the percentage of African American/Black board members increased from 8.7% to 11.9%; Asian/Pacific Islander board members grew from 4.6% to 5.4%; and Hispanic/Latino(a) board members grew slightly from 4.1% to 4.7%.

“Despite the fact that all groups have seen growth in board representation over the past decade, no board of directors of a Fortune 500 company fully represents the demographic population of the United States,” the report authors noted.

Fortune 100 Most Diversified

The report also revealed trends specific to Fortune 100 companies, where levels of diverse representation were found to be slightly higher than at Fortune 500 companies.

At these firms, 46.5% of board positions are currently held by people who are women and/or from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (versus 44.7% in the Fortune 500).

However, while representation is higher in the Fortune 100, the rate of change is nevertheless much slower.

For example, over the past decade, the proportion of women and people from diverse racial and ethnic groups on boards has increased by just 44.9% for the Fortune 100 compared to 67% for the Fortune 500.

Additional Report Findings

  • More than half of the Fortune 500 boards now have 40% of their seats held by White women and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Between 2020 and 2022, an additional 81 companies moved into this group, for a total of 281 companies. Currently, just four companies have boards where less than 10% of directors are White women and/or individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
  • Across industries, gender diversity on boards was highest for consumer businesses (32%), and in terms of racial and ethnic diversity, life sciences and health care leads in representation (25%).  The power and utilities sector has the highest percentage of African American/Black directors; the technology sector has the highest rate of Asian/Pacific Islander directors; and the energy and chemicals sector had the highest percentage representation of Hispanic/Latino(a) board members.
  • For the Fortune 100, women from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups saw significant increases, gaining board seats. The largest percentage gain in seats between 2020 and 2022 was Hispanic/Latina board members, with 45.5% growth. African American/Black women saw a growth of 38.1%, and Asian/Pacific Islander women saw a growth of 23.5%. These are significantly larger percentage increases than the three groups saw from 2018 to 2020.
  • Fifty-three companies in the Fortune 500 now have greater than 60% of their board seats filled by women and individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, the highest level to date. When compared to the current estimates of the U.S. Census populations, only 16 companies have boards with 50% or more women. Only 13 companies have 18% or greater Hispanic/Latino(a) representation. Two hundred and four companies have 13% or greater representation of African American/Black board members. Two hundred and eleven companies have 6% or greater Asian/Pacific Islander representation.

“Hispanic/Latino(a) board representation has remained relatively flat since 2004. By 2060, the Hispanic population will be almost 30% of the nation’s population, yet fewer than 5% of corporate board positions are held by Hispanics, which makes us the community with the largest disparity of board representation compared to our population and economic influence. This lack of representation is a missed opportunity for companies to drive greater innovation and business growth for an influential global economic force as we are the fifth largest economy in the world,” pointed out Cid Wilson, chair of the Alliance for Board Diversity and president and CEO of HACR.

Research Methodology

The 7th edition of the 'Missing Pieces' report uses a census methodology and is based on companies listed in the Fortune 500 by 2022.

For its part, the Fortune 500 list is updated annually and ranks companies based on total revenue.

The report provides a measure of the representation of racially and ethnically diverse groups and women on the boards of Fortune 100 and 500 companies, through analysis that offers comparable statistics that are not based on a discrete, year-long list of identical companies to another, but to companies listed on Fortune in the given years for which the census was taken, as the companies on the list change over time.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen increased pressure on corporate boards to create a boardroom that is reflective of the gender, racial and ethnic diversity that exists in society more broadly. While we’re pleased to see growth, we are also reminded of the importance of creating a welcoming environment for these diverse voices to be heard and received. This report is a reminder of the change we can create when we collectively commit to equity and ensuring all individuals — regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender — have a seat at the table,” stressed Kwasi Mitchell, chief purpose and DEI officer at Deloitte US.

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