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Sep 06, 2019

Thirty Percent Coalition’s women of color campaign receives positive company response

Group holding several events throughout US to promote women of color to boards

The Thirty Percent Coalition’s national awareness campaign, launched in April, to promote women of color onto corporate boards is having a positive response ahead of a series of events in the fall, the organization reveals to IR Magazine.

As part of its campaign in partnership with the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the coalition sent letters to companies in the S&P 1500 asking them to consider the value of adding women of color to their boards and inviting these companies to a series of events throughout the US. At these events in Chicago, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco and New York, company senior leadership will be able to connect with qualified board candidates.

‘The reaction has been positive and companies seem interested in meeting potential candidates to build their pipeline for board candidates,’ Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane, executive director of the Thirty Percent Coalition, tells IR Magazine. ‘The qualifications and experience of all the candidates are quite impressive. This is a great and effective way for companies to meet these women in an informal and private setting to get to know them better.’

‘The campaign is largely focused on educating companies about the lack of board diversity and inspiring them to do better,’ adds Rhonda Mims, chair of the Thirty Percent Coalition board of directors and executive vice president and chief public affairs officer of WellCare Health Plans. ‘As we make the business case for including women of color in board searches, we also want to create opportunities for companies and candidates to explore potential relationships.’

Women of color comprise nearly 40 percent of the US female population and have a buying power estimated to be more than $1 tn. The coalition emphasizes that without women of color, a company’s board of directors is not representative of a large portion of the US population and – in many cases – their consumer base.

The high correlation between gender-diverse boards and strong company performance is validated by research from numerous firms, such as Credit Suisse and McKinsey. Such research has shown that companies with boards that include different competencies and experience – as well as diversity of race, ethnicity and gender –exhibit stronger company performance and better risk management.

‘Research demonstrates that organizations that cultivate diversity are more likely to attract top talent, foster innovation, stimulate creative thinking and improve problem solving – all leading to better outcomes,’ notes John Rogers, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments and member of the Thirty Percent Coalition. ‘Diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the best thing to do for companies and the customers they serve.’

Through the work of the Thirty Percent Coalition and numerous resources to help companies identify qualified female candidates for board seats, gender representation is slowly increasing. Today, women represent 23 percent of S&P 1500 directors. But women of color – African American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American – represent only 3.5 percent of these appointments, according to ISS.