NYC Comptroller Advocating for Corporate Board Diversity
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

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(Image: Thinkstock)

Your office has mentioned a letter-grading system to be unveiled in the coming months. It‘s expected to be the most comprehensive assessment of city agency performance in advancing M/WBE procurement to date. Can you address that, and what are the grades so far?

That process is ongoing. We are doing an analysis of the kind of grading system for city agencies. We think it’s imperative that city agencies have robust minority- and women-owned business programs that actually result in the increase of the amount of money that goes to these companies. We are hopeful that through our efforts and holding agencies to a higher standard we can move the needle.

New York City is the most diverse city in the world. In light of all the stories and reports about the lack of diversity in America’s boardrooms, how can this city lead the way in opening more doors for minority and women-owned businesses?

In February, I sent a letter urging the SEC to encourage corporate disclosure of spending dedicated to diverse suppliers. And in April, I sent 20 letters on behalf of the pension funds to our largest holdings including Apple, Pfizer and American Express asking them to disclose their performance of supplier diversity programs. All these companies are talking the talk, but without full disclosure it’s impossible to measure commitment. So we’ve asked companies to disclose performance data to shed light on their programs effective by September.

How is your office working with other comptrollers and state treasurers like Denise Napier of Connecticut to make sure the companies they invest in aren’t “male, pale and stale,” as one of your letters indicated.

By monitoring our city agencies. On a national level, we’re holding companies to a new way of disclosure on supplier diversity. And we have to monitor board diversity. It is obviously vital to a company’s success and an essential element to robust decision making. We need to strengthen the boards’ independent thinking and oversight. The time for delay is over, the talent is available and the task of board leadership demands that talent. The days of male pale and stale should be a look back on how we were not where we need to be.

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