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Communicating Board Diversity through Disclosure

December 10, 2015

In the past few years, shareholders and boards have given considerable attention to boardroom diversity that reflects a wider variety of opinions, skills and experience to meet the challenges and opportunities in the changing corporate landscape. Diverse boards also represent their stakeholders’ demographics, including shareholder and customer bases.

As boardroom diversity continued to garner more attention in the past few years, numerous companies have paid more attention to their board’s composition. According to a recent Equilar report, female directors occupied 19.8% of S&P 500 board seats in 2014, indicating a slow but steady growth of female directors on S&P 500 boards since 2010. By shifting the composition of the board, companies convey to shareholders that the long-term outlook of their company relies on best corporate governance practices.

Today, many companies are voluntarily disclosing the composition and diversity of their boards in their annual proxy statements. For example, Wells Fargo & Company, in its proxy filed 3/17/15, discussed the overall composition and detailed annual performance evaluation of its board of directors.

Wells Fargo stated that a mixture of experience and perspectives on the board can enhance its company’s corporate governance practices. The proxy also visually displays the composition of its current board with graphs that show a breakdown of the members’ tenure, ethnicity and gender.

McKesson Corporation, in its proxy filed 6/15/15, provides another example of a company that transparently presents board diversity for its shareholders. The company addresses how it actively refreshes the board with new members so it is independent, experienced, and diverse. McKesson also displays visuals similar to Wells Fargo, showing prevalence of gender, ethnicity, independence, and past experience. Disclosures such as Wells Fargo’s and McKesson’s— conveying differing skills, qualifications, and backgrounds that represent investors—are becoming more commonplace in annual proxies as the topic of boardroom diversity continues to garner more attention.

The data in this report is powered by Equilar’s BoardEdge, a new data platform that features detailed information on more than 135,000 U.S. board members. BoardEdge not only includes more than a dozen categories about each board member’s background and leadership experience, but also features a network tool clearly displaying how board members are connected to each other.

For more information on BoardEdge, or to request a demo, click here.

For more information on Equilar’s research and data analysis, please contact Dan Marcec, Director of Content & Marketing Communications at

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