Women, people of color see gains in corporate board; Latinos lag

A new study published Thursday found that the number of women and people of color sitting on the nation’s largest companies’ corporate boards increased by 38% in 2022.

Fortune 500 companies had 44.7% of women and people of color in board seats in 2022, up 38% from 2020, according to the seventh edition of “Missing Pieces,” a report published by the management consulting firm Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity.

Overall, people of color on boards grew from 17.5% in 2020 to 22.2% in 2022. Black people netted the largest gains, from 8.7% to 11.9%, Asian/Pacific Islanders saw their numbers grow from 4.6% to 5.4% and Latinos increased from 4.1% to 4.7%.

Growth, but still lagging

“The findings from this year’s report show gradual steps in the right direction, but at this pace, U.S. top corporate boards might not represent the nation’s population until 2060,” Carey Oven, national managing partner of Deloitte’s Center for Board Effectiveness, said in the report. “Board diversity and inclusion isn’t only the right thing to do; it is a business imperative that builds broad stakeholder trust that ultimately can lead to better business outcomes.”

White men held the largest share of corporate board seats at 55.3%. Women held 30% of board seats in 2022, up from 26.5% in 2020. Black women saw the largest percentage increase at 47%, gaining 86 board seats since 2020. Asian/Pacific Islander women gained 24 seats, a 27% increase and Latinas added 14 seats, an increase of 23.7%.

Cid Wilson, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, an advocacy group promoting more Latino inclusion in corporate America, told NBC News that Latino board representation hasn’t shifted much in almost 20 years.

“It’s a significant concern that we have given the fact that not only has our community grown in population, we’re now the fifth largest economy in the world,” he said. “Corporate America needs to acculturate to a growingly diverse community, not asking us to assimilate into a white-centric construct of what a corporate board of directors should look like. And once we start going into an acculturation format, we can start moving the needle for more Latinos and Latinas.”

‘We have to be looking in different places’

Myrna Soto, founder and CEO of Apogee Executive Advisors, an executive consulting and advisory firm, said that having a diverse perspective in the boardroom is critical in influencing and helping the executive management team carve out a strategy and business imperatives for a company.

When it comes to increasing Latino board representation, companies can struggle to boost diversity because of a lack of talent awareness. And coupled with a finite number of board seats, Soto said, it will take time to reach higher increases in diversity.

“There’s a little bit of a misnomer that people say ‘I can’t find the talent,’” said Soto, who helps mentor women and women of color on what a journey to get on a board may look like. “The reality is that the search process and the process to get diverse candidates, including Latinos, on boards, is we have to be looking in different places. We can’t look in the same historical, traditional places because the representation is just not there.”

When compared to Fortune 500 companies, Fortune 100 companies lead slightly when it comes to diversity, with 46.5% of board seats held by women and people of color versus 44.7%. But Fortune 500 companies saw larger rates of change over the last decade at 67%, compared to 44.9% for Fortune 100 companies.

In total, 53 Fortune 500 companies now have more than 60% of their board seats filled by women and people of color, the highest to date. Only 16 companies have boards that are made up of 50% or more women, 13 companies have 18% or more Latino representation, 204 companies have 13% or more Black board members and 211 companies have more than 6% Asian/Pacific Islander representation.


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