The Conference Board and ESGAUGE have published a new report, Corporate Board Practices in the Russell 3000, S&P 500, and S&P MidCap 400: 2021 Edition, which focuses primarily on board diversity. The Report finds that women’s representation on boards continues to increase across all three indices. Boards with multiple women directors saw increases in the S&P 500. The Report also finds that typically, the smaller the company, the less gender diversity on their board. With regard to racial disclosure, the Report finds that such disclosures increased in all three indices. The Report finds that despite the increase in racial disclosure, the racial and ethnic composition of the newly elected class of directors remains similar to the makeup reported in 2020, according to directors’ self-disclosure. The study was published by The Conference Board and ESG data analytics firm ESGAUGE, in collaboration with Debevoise & Plimpton, the KPMG Board Leadership Center, Russell Reynolds Associates, and the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
Justin Klein, Director of the Weinberg Center, noted “The latest data reveal that the all-male board is fast becoming obsolete, as most boards recognize the many benefits that diversity can bring to the table. Diversity is not a check-the-box compliance exercise, and companies should not relent in the pursuit of some form of gender balance on their board. Those smaller entities that do not yet have any female board members should give thoughtful consideration to adding other diverse members to their board.”
Additional key findings of the report include:
- While large companies continue to combine the Chair and CEO roles, mid-sized companies are increasingly separating them.
- Despite more ESG responsibilities for boards, new duties continue being fulfilled primarily by existing committees.
The report is complemented by an online dashboard, that users can use to visualize the data by market index, business sector, and company size.