In September of last year, we reported that Zillow’s CEO was pledging to The Board Initiative, a program to diversify company boards, which are predominantly white and male. However, boards for the biggest companies in the nation still lack the diversity that the program aimed to change. A new program has been launched to continue this movement and Zillow is keeping up with its promise of change and beating down the stigma against having people of color holding higher corporate positions.
Joining Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks, Zillow has pledged to The Black Boardroom Initiative, a program with a goal of increasing the ratio of Black executives sitting on S&P 500 corporate boards to one in eight by 2028. This non-profit initiative has been spearheaded by Perkins Coie with support from Deloitte.
Perkins Coie Partner and initiative Co-Leader Stewart Landefeld, said in a statement:
“This initiative will help to address this equity imbalance by identifying leading Black executives who are board-ready, preparing them for critical issues that boards are facing today, and establishing a pipeline between program participants and public companies.”
The initiative is also offering specific candidates a six-month training and networking program to help qualified Black director candidates more visibility with S&P 500 corporations. This part of the program will begin in Washington state, where many of the initiative’s sponsors are located.
Since June of 2020, 145 S&P 500 corporations have appointed at least one Black director to their board, according to Latino Corporation Directors Association data that was recently cited by sources.
The Better Boards Initiative, another non-profit organization looking to diversify boards, that is in support of The Black Boardroom Initiative, is looking to increase the number of women in these same types of companies, a number that is currently at one-third of all S&P 500 companies. This is the largest ratio it’s ever been.
Cate Goethals, the founder of that initiative said:
“Half the population is female. Unfortunately, the focus has been on appointing women and only in the recent couple years has their been [focus] on appointing people of color in general.”
Currently, the only major corporation that has yet to appoint a Black candidate to its board is Amazon. However, Microsoft, Starbucks, Zillow, and F5 all have one Black board member. In October of last year, Zillow announced the appointment of Claire Cormier Thielke, the Managing Director of Hines Asia Pacific and a member of Stanford University’s adjunct faculty, to its board of directors.