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Chief Executive Officer & Board of Directors

Board Monitor 2017: Is diversity at an impasse?

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In 2016, Fortune 500 companies filled 421 vacant or newly created board seats with non-executive directors. That represents a new high as recorded by the Board Monitor, Heidrick & Struggles’ annual study of board composition, experience, turnover, and diversity.

In addition to the increase in appointments, our analysis surfaced the following key findings:

  • The share of seats that went to women in 2016 fell by two percentage points, to 27.8%, ending a seven-year run of year-on-year gains. This represents a drop to a level predating that of 2014.
  • In the past four years, the aggregate proportion of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Asian-American appointments averaged 20.1%.
  • In 2016, the percentage of Hispanic appointees, though still low compared with the overall US Hispanic population, reached the highest level recorded. Consumer companies led the way—almost 60% of Hispanic appointees went to boards in the consumer sector.
  • Almost 41% of Asian and Asian-American appointees went to technology boards.
  • About 33% of African-American appointees went to boards in the industrial sector.
  • Current and former CEOs and CFOs together accounted for almost 66% of director appointments in 2016—down from the eight-year high of 73% in 2015.
  • Of the 421 board appointees in 2016, some 315, or almost 75%, had previous board experience.

To read the full report, flip through the interactive version above or click the download button for the PDF.


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