Zillow, United and others commit to add Black directors

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Zillow Group and Nextdoor.com are among companies pledging to add their first Black directors within the next year, as part of a corporate challenge launched Wednesday to encourage board diversity. United Airlines committed to add a second Black board member.

The Board Challenge, a group of 43 companies, will advocate for corporate boards to draw from a wider pool of candidates to give more executives opportunities to serve. Some members, like United, Verizon Communications and Merck, already have Black directors.

Read more: Committing to diversity and inclusion means addressing common microaggressions

Companies with no Black directors are under pressure after a summer of unrest related to the killing of George Floyd by police as well as the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 in minority communities. Investors have been suing boards that lack Black directors as well as calling for additional disclosure of the racial breakdown of the boardroom. California’s legislature passed a law last month that, if signed by the governor, will require companies based there to have at least one minority director by the end of next year and will compel many to have three by 2022.

About a dozen of the largest U.S. companies still lack a Black director, according to data gathered by Bloomberg News during the last few months.

Black directors accounted for only about 10% of new board seats in 2019, down from 11% in the previous two years, as appointments of minority candidates stalled, according toa separate report released Wednesday by executive recruiter Heidrick & Struggles. Almost three-quarters of the directors appointed last year had served on boards in the past, a hiring criterion that Heidrick found to limit opportunities for minority candidates, who often lack such experience. In contrast, the recruiter now predicts women will be half of new board members by 2022.

Bloomberg News
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