[EXCLUSIVE] Board Diversity: Jesse Jackson’s Campaign to Bring Inclusion To Silicon Valley

Civil rights leader shares why this battle for black board representation is critical

Rev. Jesse Jackson highlights the lack of diversity in the tech community at HP's annual meeting. (Image: File)

As BLACK ENTERPRISE unveils the 2014 BE Registry of Corporate Directors the annual list of African American board members that can be found on S&P 250 companies—our editors found that roughly 30% of the largest publicly traded companies do not have a single African American among its governance. And the most egregious offenders—Silicon Valley tech companies—are not powered for diversity.

Over the past few months, Rainbow PUSH Coalition Founder and President Jesse Jackson has taken aim at Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and the like, buying stock in these companies and pressing top management in annual meetings and sit-downs. In other words, he’s applying good, old-fashioned shareholder activism.

RELATED: Black Enterprise’s Exclusive Registry of African American Board Members

In his exclusive interview with our Tech Editor Patrick Austin, Jackson shares why this battle for African American board representation is so critical and being waged in Silicon Valley.

Black Enterprise: Share with us your campaign concerning  corporate boards in Silicon Valley.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: First of all Silicon Valley has been a highly segregated valley. This includes Apple, eBay, and Amazon, all of them. All of them are all-white, male boards of directors, and a few white women for the most part. And the board of directors was one issue. The other was the C-suite issue.

We found that they had been fighting vigorously against EEO reports because their records had been so horrendous, until they were embarrassed by the numbers. And Google broke the ice, now Yahoo is coming in. We think that exposing the EEO reports opens the door to the whole discussion about boards of directors.

For example, now, the successor to Bill Gates as Microsoft board chairman is John Thompson, who ran Symantec very well. And I think that Dave Drummond from Google is now on one of the major boards. Once we had begun to open up the discussion, they felt the media pressure of exposure.

Find out more about Jackson’s efforts to hold companies accountable for diversity on corporate boards on the next page …

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