Fortune 500 Board Diversity Ticks Up, Is It Enough? 

By Lesley Green-Rennis

  • Black people encompass nearly 12% of corporate board seats
  • Fortune 100 companies score the highest combined representation of women and minorities, yet white people hold nearly 78% of board seats

Underrepresented groups are more present on company boards, but overall diversity is still limited. A recent report from Deloitte, points out an overall positive trend in diversifying boards of directors. Fortune 100 companies score the highest combined representation of women and minorities, 46.5%. However, this diversity has been distributed along predictable lines, and the majority of board seats are still taken by white men.  

Why This Matters: Boards are responding to the demand for diversity. In the past decade, the number of Fortune 100 companies with greater than 50% board members who are women and/or individuals from underrepresented ethnic groups has tripled. Underrepresented groups, women and minorities have more participation than ever. Yet those gains are still small, and only 22% of board seats are taken by members of racial and ethnic minorities.

In 2020, 6.6% of board seats held by women of color, and 14% by men of color. Fast forward to 2022, women of color were 8.8%, and men 14.9%. Although overall diversity increased across all ethnic and racial minority groups, white people continue to hold nearly 78% of board seats and representation in Fortune 500 boards lags behind Fortune 100.  

Situational Awareness: Research shows companies with higher levels of diversity at the board level are more likely to have strong financial performance and fewer instances of poor corporate governance. Following years of stagnation and loss, companies are increasingly seeking board members who reflect their workforce, customer base, and other stakeholders. Deloitte points out that full equal representation for women and minorities across all Fortune 500 companies won’t be achieved before 2060.

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