The initiative will use both organizations’ commitment to diversity and equality in order to increase opportunities for Black business leaders and companies and give them a seat at the boardroom table.
According to a press release on the initiative, in 2019 more than one-third of S&P 500 firms had zero Black board members. Additionally, Black directors made up less than 5% of Russell 3000 board members. Boards typically blame the lack of qualified Black directors for board service as the reason.
The two organizations will make sure Black executives who have the business leadership, skills, experience, and judgment to serve on boards but lack the access or visibility needed to be considered, are seen.
“We consider diversity as a business imperative and we know that companies that embrace diversity outperform others,” Peter R. Gleason, CEO of NACD said in the release. “Not only does this initiative increase opportunities for Black executives to serve on boards, but by diversifying the candidate pool, boards will be able to tap into fresh skillsets that are desperately needed in board and corporate governance today.”
The initiative’s goal is to identify at least 250 Black business leaders to join the group’s Accelerate program by 2022. The Accelerate program is a two-year program that creates a pathway for executives with little or no boardroom experience to provide education and exposure to ensure participants receive foundational instruction on the role of boards and corporate governance.
“Increasing diversity in business, including in the boardroom, is not only the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing,” Suzanne Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber said. “Greater diversity helps companies get closer to their customers, recruit from a richer pool of talent and experience, and bring different ideas and viewpoints to their business. It is also an important way we can help solve opportunity gaps that have held back too many Americans from achieving their full potential.”