Missing Pieces Report: The Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards, 6th edition

By Deloitte | 2021

Board diversity trends

The events of the summer of 2020 may have been a tipping point for the large array of factors that brought to the forefront already existing needs for change in boardroom composition. While stakeholders and shareholders increase demands for gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in the boardrooms of America’s companies, many forward-thinking boards recognize the benefits of such change. This business case for board diversity is not new and may no longer be forward-thinking. The protests over racial injustices and state legislative action on board composition in 2020 made clear that the need for greater representation of women and minorities in the boardrooms of America’s largest companies can no longer be held up or held back. As demographics and buying power1 in the United States become increasingly more diverse, corporate boards are working to obtain greater diversity of background, experience, and thought in the boardroom.

This study is the culmination of a multiyear effort organized by the Alliance for Board Diversity, collaborating with Deloitte for the 2016, 2018, and 2020 censuses, which have examined and chronicled the representation of women and minorities on public company boards of directors across America’s largest companies.

Originally organized as a “snapshot” of board diversity, the data accumulated since 2004 has enabled the ABD to report on trends regarding the overall diversity of boards, as well as the relative differences across the equitable rates of representation for women and minorities by gender, race, and ethnicity. This Missing Pieces Report, 6th edition highlights the progress to date that has or has not been made in the equitable representation of women and minorities on corporate boards. While there have been a few gains in board representation for some demographic groups, advancement is still very incremental, with goals of achieving proportional representation to the presence of women and minorities in the US population sometimes multiple decades away at current rates of change.2

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