Count On This

New report on the number of blacks on corporate boards

A company’s commitment to diversity is defined not only by how many minorities it employs but, among other criteria, the extent to which the components that impact and influence its business objectives are diverse. One such area is governance, a corporation’s board of directors, which is the focus of a survey recently released by the Executive Leadership Council’s Institute for Leadership Development & Research. ELC, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization for senior-level African American executives, formed the institute in 2003 to conduct research on diversity issues that affect its core members.

The project, The 2004 Census of African Americans on Corporate Boards, is part one of a two-part research series. Its goals are to issue a calculation, study the implication of these numbers, and influence future representation, says Dennis Dowdell Jr., the institute’s executive director.

Part one of the project culled information dating back to March 2004 from the largest 500 publicly traded American companies to examine the current status of black representation on their boards. The report also lists all black board members and breaks down industry and regional representation.

Pfizer Inc., with four black directors out of 15, had the highest percentage (27%) of African Americans. There were 165 companies (33%) with no representation. Among the largest firms in that group: American International Group Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and Boeing Co.

The industries with the highest percentages included tobacco (16.6%), food services (16.1%), and beverages (14.3%). Four industries show zero board representation: pipeline, toys and sporting goods, transportation and logistics, and wholesaler/diversified.

Part two of the series, due out in September, will explore the implications of these numbers and, according to Dowdell, offer some solutions. “There is a cadre of qualified and competent African American senior corporate officers who could serve. For the [companies] that are not doing well, let’s find out why.”

For the full report, log on to www.elcinfo.com.

INDUSTRIES WITH THE HIGHESTREPRESENTATION OF BLACK BOARD MEMBERS

Industry

Number of Companies

Total African American Directors

Total Directors

% of African American Directors

Miscellaneous2 3 7 36 19.4
Tobacco 2 3 18 16.6
Food Services 5 9 56 16.1
Beverages 6 10 70 14.3
Railroads 4 6 42 14.2

 

2 FIVE COMPANIES ARE REPRESENTED IN THE MISCELLANEOUS CATEGORY: 3M, CENDANT, H&R BLOCK, UNITED RENTALS AND SERVICE CORPORATION INTERNATIONAL.
SOURCE: THE EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL 2004 CENSUS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS ON BOARDS OF DIRECTORS


INSIDE THE NUMBERS

5,572

Approximate board seats; 449, or 8.1%, are held by African Americans

255

African American directors on corporate boards at the top 500 publicly traded companies

201

Board members are black men, 54 are black women

60

Serve on two boards, 45 serve on three or more

8

Board seats held by a single African American board member (William Gray III). Four African Americans hold seven board seats

 

 


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