On October 5, 2016, the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies held a public meeting to discuss, among other things, board diversity for public companies. As part of the meeting, the National Association of Corporate Directors (the “NACD”) gave a presentation titled “Advancing Exemplary Board Leadership, which highlighted various statistics concerning board diversity, including that, in 2015, at S&P 500 companies, women comprised 20% of all directors, African Americans comprised 8.6% of directors, Hispanics/Latinos comprised 4.8% of directors, and board members of Asian descent comprised 1.8% of directors. The NACD presentation stressed that board diversity should reflect both identity (e.g., gender, race, and ethnicity) and skills, such as professional experience, and emphasized the link between diverse boards and improved public company performance. The NACD presentation also noted that progress in increasing board diversity in the United States has been relatively slow and the United States falls behind many countries in the percentage of women on boards. However, the NACD presentation found that a significant number of public companies took certain initiatives to increase their board diversity, including expanding search criteria, diversifying the composition of the nominating and governance committees, increasing the size of the board, instituting or changing tenure-limited mechanisms, and adopting formal racial and/or gender diversity targets.
The NACD presentation is available at: https://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus/acsec-100516-nacd-dominguez.pdf.