Fortune 500 companies delivered a new board diversity record, but it's not enough


There is good and bad news coming from the latest report on boardroom diversity in Fortune 500 companies. Underrepresented groups—women and minorities—have more participation than ever. Yet those gains are not still small, and only 22% of board seats are taken by members of racial and ethnic minorities.

Fortune 100 companies score the highest combined representation of women and minorities, 46.5%—yet this means the absolute majority of board seats are still taken by white men.

The report projects (pdf, p.6) that, at this pace, full equal representation for women and minorities across all Fortune 500 companies won’t be achieved before 2060.

Fewer white men, more everyone else, still mostly white men

According to the report, released by consulting firm Deloitte, there has been an overall increase in diversity between 2020 and 2022. But it has been distributed along predictable lines: White women are more represented in company boards than people of color, and men of color more than women of color.

The overall trend is encouraging. In 2020, there was 6.6% of board seats held by women of color, and 14% by men of color; in 2022, women of color are 8.8%, and men 14.9%—showing faster growth among women.

White people continue to hold nearly 78% of board seats, but overall diversity increased across all ethnic and racial minorities. In particular for Black people, who now take nearly 12% of board seats: Between 2020 and 2022, Black men gained 201 board seats, and Black women 76.

Growth among Asian and Hispanic and Latino groups has been smaller, with 47 and 33 more seats respectively, while white women gained the second-most seats, 95. However, among the top 100 companies, Hispanic and Latino women saw the largest relative growth in representation, holding 45.5% more seats.

All of this growth happened against a significant drop in control from white men, who now have 382 fewer seats at Fortune 500 boardroom tables.

On Thursday, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed guests to the South Lawn of the White House for a screening of the new film Flamin’ Hot.

The film tells the story of Richard Montañez, a Frito-Lay janitor with an entrepreneurial spirit, who worked his way up to becoming a marketing executive. (Montañez is sometimes credited with inventing the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, though critics say he may not have.) But what’s not up for debate is how he leaned into his Mexican American heritage in order to tap into new markets, earning him the nickname, “the godfather of Hispanic marketing.”

The president hosted 600 guests including lawmakers and cabinet members, as well as the cast and crew of Flamin’ Hot. Actress Eva Longoria, who made her directorial debut with the film, was in attendance.

“This truly is a people’s story,” Longoria said of the film at the annual Fast Company Impact Council meeting this week. “We are celebrating a story that celebrates the American entrepreneurial dream, without sidestepping the fact that the dream isn’t available in the same way for everyone.”

Biden said the screening was a historic moment, as it was the first time a film about the Hispanic community had been publicly screened at the White House.

“It reminds us of the power—I mean it sincerely—the power of diversity, hope, and opportunity, which is the American story,” the president said.

The screening appears to be part of a new effort to celebrate films telling culturally diverse stories. Last month, Biden held a screening of the upcoming Disney+ series, American Born Chinese, to honor Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander heritage month. Oscar winner and cast member Ke Huy Quan, who has spoken openly about his own immigration story, attended that event. When Quan accepted his Oscar for Everything Everywhere All At Once in March, he told the world during his acceptance speech: “This is the American dream.”

Last month, on the South Lawn, Quan said, “It is with profound humility and gratitude that I stand before you tonight. I do not take this moment lightly, because I know this building is a monument to a country that opened its arms to me once upon a time.”

Earlier this year, Biden signed an executive order for advancing racial equity and supporting underserved communities in the workforce, building on an executive order he signed on his first day in office.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post