African Americans Are Making Progress in Winning Seats on Corporate Boards of Directors

A new study from the KPMG Board Leadership Center and African American Directors Forum documents the fact that African Americans have made significant progress in gaining seats on the board of directors to Fortune 1000 companies.

Among the key findings of the report are:

  • Just over three-quarters (76 percent) of public Fortune 1000 companies had at least one African American director on their board as of September 2022, compared with 61 percent at the end of 2020.
  • Only 22 percent of those companies had more than one African American director on their board. Four percent of the companies had three or more African Americans on their boards.
  • Forty percent of the African American directors in this study joined their boards after June 1, 2020, showing that much progress has been made following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
  • African American directors served as board chair at 13 public Fortune 1000 companies; one also held the CEO role and 18 served as lead independent director.
  • All of the 100 largest companies had at least one African American director. Nine percent had three or more African American board members.
  • 60 percent of all African American board members are men, whereas 72 percent of all board members are men.

The report found that immediately following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the subsequent nationwide protests, companies made a concerted effort to appoint more African Americans to their boards of directors. The new analysis finds that the progress has slowed in recent years.

The report cites a continuing misperception that there are not enough qualified African Americans to serve on boards of the nation’s largest firms. The authors state that “there is not a pipeline issue. There is an impressively robust pool of qualified African American business leaders with expansive business experience ready and willing to contribute in the boardroom.”

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