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Brief Published: 21 Sep 2020

BLM Spurs New Pledges to Diversify Boards & Workforces


As detailed in Nurturing Black Talent, corporate representation of Black talent from entry-level to the boardroom has become a new consumer metric supporting brand affinity. Following on statements supporting Black Lives Matter, several initiatives and commitments announced this month show companies taking concrete steps towards more equitable internal cultures.  

  • Building Better Boards: New initiative Board Challenge is addressing Black underrepresentation on American corporate boards. Only 4% of directors are Black – a minor rise from 3% in 2015 (Institutional Shareholder Services, 2020) – while Black Americans comprise over 12% of the US population. 

    Board Challenge asks companies to pledge appointment of a Black director within one year and provides assistance with recruitment, or (if the company already has at least one Black director) to foster continued efforts for change. At launch, companies in the former group include digital real estate platform Zillow and neighbourhood-based social network Nextdoor; participants in the latter group include United Airlines, rideshare rivals Lyft and Uber, and telecom giant Verizon.  

    Board Challenge notes that broadening representation is both socially responsible and good for business, with 76% of directors saying board diversity enhances company performance (PwC, 2019). 

  • Uptick in Hiring Commitments: BLM is bringing new urgency to diversifying corporate workforces. In September, US retailer Target committed to increasing its Black workforce by 20% over three years, outlining plans to recruit and retain Black employees in notably underrepresented areas (including technology and merchandising), and enhancing leadership pathways. Additionally, Target disclosed that 5% of its officer-level executives and 8% of its leadership team are Black. 
    Also this month, US-based packaged-foods business Mondelez announced it will double the number of Black executives in its US management by 2024.

 As NY-based advertising consultant Cindy Gallop told us in June: “There’s only one thing that every company can do [to become credible allies], and that is hire, welcome and promote Black talent.” Read more in Nurturing Black Talent and Active Allyship.