The Thirty Percent Coalition Launches National Campaign to Promote Women of Color to Corporate Boards

In this first-of-its-kind initiative, the Thirty Percent Coalition partners with the Nathan Cummings Foundation to bring attention to the small percentage (3.5%) of women of color on S&P 1500 Corporate Boards

Fort Washington, PA – April 23, 2019 – The Thirty Percent Coalition has launched a national awareness campaign to promote women of color on corporate boards. This first of its kind initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

The Coalition recently sent letters to companies in the S&P 1500 asking them to consider the value of adding women of color to their boards and inviting these companies to a series of regional events this fall. At these events, company senior leadership will be able to connect with qualified board candidates. Event details will be announced later this year.

“The campaign is largely focused on educating companies about the lack of board diversity and inspiring them to do better. As we make the business case for including women of color in board searches, we also want to create opportunities for companies and candidates to explore potential relationships,” stated Rhonda Mims, Chair of the Thirty Percent Coalition board of directors and Executive Vice President and Chief Public Affairs Officer of WellCare Health Plans.

Women of color comprise nearly 40% of the US female population and have a buying power estimated to be more than $1 trillion. The Coalition emphasizes that without women of color, the company’s board of directors is not representative of a large portion of the US population, and in many cases, their consumer base.

According to Barbara Whye, board member of the Thirty Percent Coalition and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Intel, “It is important to encourage more women, and particularly women of color, to pursue senior leadership positions, including a seat at the boardroom table.” Whye continued, “At the same time, it is just as important for companies to change their culture to welcome and retain diverse populations in the workforce, and to provide a path that allows for professional advancement.”

The high correlation between gender diverse boards and strong company performance is validated by several years of extensive research by numerous firms, such as Credit Suisse and McKinsey. The research has shown that companies with boards that include different competencies and experience – as well as diversity of race, ethnicity and gender – exhibit stronger company performance and better risk management.

“Research has demonstrated organizations that cultivate diversity are more likely to attract top talent, foster innovation, stimulate creative thinking and improve problem solving—all leading to better outcomes. Diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it's the best thing to do for companies and the customers they serve,” noted John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman & CEO, Ariel Investments and member of the Thirty Percent Coalition.

Numerous resources have been developed to help companies identify qualified women candidates for board seats. As a result, gender representation is slowly increasing. Today, women represent 23% of S&P 1500 directors. However, women of color (African American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American) represent only 3.5% of these appointments (source: Institutional Shareholder Services “ISS”).

According to Laura Campos, the Director of the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Corporate & Political Accountability Program, The Thirty Percent Coalition has the reach and credibility to influence corporations’ approach to board diversity and we’re pleased to support its work to increase the number of women of color serving on corporate boards.

The Thirty Percent Coalition’s impact is highlighted by the success of its “Adopt a Company” Campaign led by its institutional investors. Following outreach and engagement since 2012, close to 200 companies have appointed a woman to the board for the first time.

Read The Coalition letter to companies in the S&P 1500

...we find that banks with more gender diversity on their board perform better once the composition of these boards reaches a critical level of gender diversity, corresponding to a board female share of around 13-17 percent.

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