New Roundtable Convened to Address Impediments to Board Diversity

June 22, 2018

In a challenge to "continued barriers to diverse board representation," WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) has assembled the Nominating and Governance Chair Roundtable, a group of board leaders from top global companies with the aim of "actively addressing" the lack of board diversity, which may include, among other things, looking at other sources for candidates, such as chief human resource officers.

The roundtable comprises board chairs, CEOs, and nominating and governance committee chairs from companies including Aetna, Aptiv, AT&T, Exelon, KeyCorp, Levi Strauss, Macy's, and McDonald's, along with experts such as Julie Daum, Spencer Stuart's North American Board Practice Leader (and director at Seacoast Banking Corporation). 

The stated aims of the roundtable are to create "peer group exchanges" focused on diversity, explore the benefits of a centralized database of diverse candidates, engage investors, create a library of resources for governance committees, and establish best practices for director performance assessments.  Although databases such as Equilar's Diversity Network already exist, they are fragmented and somewhat decentralized, leading to arguments that there simply isn't a sufficient pipeline of diverse candidates to increase diversity at the majority of boards—an argument the roundtable seeks to put to bed once and for all.

Potential boost for CHROs: S&P 500 companies are increasingly looking beyond the traditional "current or retired CEO" board candidate, according to recent research by Spencer Stuart.  This includes candidates who are younger, more diverse, and actively employed (often with a tech background). Although CHROs have historically been underrepresented on boards, this new push could indicate a change in trend.

To engage with WCD and the Nominating and Governance Chair Roundtable, email nom_cmte@womencorporatedirectors.org.