Starbucks Set to Add Three to Board, Making It More Diverse

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The New York Times - By Andrew Ross Sorkin -  


-  Shared by Timothy Smith -

Corporate executives often talk about the need for boardroom diversity, but few do much about it. Women still hold slightly less than 20 percent of public corporate board seats. African-Americans hold less than 9 percent, Asians even less, about 5 percent, and Hispanics only about 4 percent.


On Wednesday, Starbucks, the coffee giant, plans to announce it is adding three new directors to its board and in doing so will create what will be among the nation’s most diverse corporate boards.

The new directors, who will require shareholder approval, will be Rosalind Brewer, an African-American woman who is president and chief executive of Sam’s Club and vice president of Walmart Stores; Satya Nadella, an Indian-American who is chief executive of Microsoft Corporation; and Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, the Denmark-born executive chairman of the Lego Brand Group.

With the additions, the Starbuck’s board would grow to 14 people; would be 29 percent female and 36 percent ethnic minority; and would include a range of ages from millennials to baby boomers.

“I’ve tried to create an environment within the board that would be culturally similar to that of the company,” Howard Schultz, the company’s founder and chairman, said. “People with like-minded values, domain expertise, diverse and deeply committed to transparency with a comprehensive understanding of our aspirations to create a great enduring company balancing profit with conscience.”

The nomination of the new directors comes two months after Mr. Schultz said he would step down from his role as chief executive in April to become executive chairman. Kevin Johnson, the company’s president and a former senior executive of Microsoft, will become chief executive.

Mr. Nadella said he was attracted to join the Starbucks board in part because of his relationship with Mr. Schultz and Mr. Johnson, but also because of the company’s effort to create a diverse group of directors.

“I was always intrigued,” Mr. Nadella said about Mr. Schultz’s stated mission to “build a company my father never got to work at,” an allusion to the struggles his father faced as a truck driver without health coverage. Mr. Schultz began offering health care coverage to all full- and part-time employees in 1988.

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