Knowledge Center: Publication

Chief Executive Officer & Board of Directors

Board Monitor 2017: Is diversity at an impasse?

Subscribe to Chief Executive Officer & Board of Directors 6/19/2017
Download Publication

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.

Related thinking

2016 Board Monitor: Mapping incoming boardroom talent

Four boardroom trends to watch

Trends in board composition over the past five years

Knowledge Center

23rd Annual Stanford Directors’ College
CEO succession trends in 2016
NACD Leading Minds of Governance–East forum
Article Case Study Expert Guidance
See All