September 16, 2016
Without a requirement to disclose racial or ethnic diversity on their boards of directors, very few companies explicitly detail this information in public filings. According to a new study from Equilar, just 12.8% of S&P 500 companies outlined board diversity in their most recent proxy statements.
In particular, the technology sector—among which several companies have recently received proposals from shareholders to disclose gender pay disparities—lags almost every other sector. Just 5.7% of S&P 500 tech companies—four total—disclosed the composition of their board in terms of racial or ethnic diversity. Even fewer from the basic materials sector (consisting mostly of oil and gas companies) included this information in 2016 proxy statements—one company in all.
Underpinning these findings is the fact that shareholders, employees and clients are calling for more diversity in corporate boardrooms, and in response, more and more companies are expressing commitment to diversity on their boards.
“Nearly three in five S&P 500 companies disclosed that they ‘consider’ ethnic or racial diversity when assessing the board of director candidates,” said Matthew Goforth, research and content specialist at Equilar. “However, we found that this information often limited to boilerplate language inclusive of little more than an acknowledgement, and data shows that they have yet to dedicated on that commitment at a broader level.”
While still lagging the overall S&P 500, the technology sector did see the largest percentage growth of women on boards during the last five years, according to the Equilar study. In 2012, women held 14.4% of tech board seats, and that percentage increased to 21.0% in 2016. However, that growth still was not enough to reach the overall S&P 500 average, nor up its ranking against other sectors.
A new Equilar report, Board Composition and Recruiting Trends 2016, features independent commentary from Semler Brossy Consulting Group, and includes more than 30 unique data sets analyzing board composition and leadership as well as director age, tenure and skills.
For more information on Equilar research and data analysis, please contact Dan Marcec, Director of Content & Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.