Many large corporations have added Black men and women to their corporate boards in the wake of last summer’s Black Lives Matter resurgence. However, a board diversity census shows Black men lost progress in the two years before.
The census pointed to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement as the moment the significant lack in diversity among corporate boards started to gain traction. According to ISS Corporate Solutions, between July 2020 and May 2021, 32% of newly appointed board members among S&P 500 companies were Black.
The effort was an 11% jump from 2019. However, in the two preceding years, the number of Black men actually fell.
The census shows between 2018 and June 2020, the number of women serving on Fortune 500 boards rose 4%. The number of Black men on corporate boards fell by 1.5% during the same time. However, the number of Black women during the same time frame rose 18%.
Despite the rise of Black women in corporate boards, they and other minorities are still being left out of corporate board rooms. The Census found Black, Asian, and Latino women have made significant diversity increases on corporate boards. Still, for every minority female on a corporate board, three white women also gained a seat.
For its study, the census reviewed two years of public, corporate filings through June 30, 2020. During that time, corporations were responding to pressure to include more women on boards. That includes a law California passed in 2017 requiring publicly traded firms based in the state to have at least two directors by 2021, depending on their size.
Last year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new similar bill into law, giving companies until the end of next year to have at least one member from an underrepresented ethnic community or an LGBTQ member on their corporate board.
Other moves are being made to ensure corporate diversity on boards. For example, NASDAQ filed a proposal last December with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt new rules requiring companies to disclose board diversity statistics publicly.