Board diversity is once again under the spotlight. While boards worldwide are slowly becoming more gender diverse, they are not inclusive of LGBTQ+ people.
Egon Zehnder, a leadership advisory firm, released its Global Board Diversity Tracker for 2022-2023.
The report shows that although corporate boards are making steady progress in terms of gender and racial and ethnic diversity, more action is needed to improve inclusiveness.
The report finds that LGBTQ+ diversity remains underrepresented and often undefined on boards.
Only 26 out of 5,670 board seats in the Fortune 500 are held by LGBTQ+ leaders.
A recent Out Leadership report found that less than one per cent of Fortune 500 companies have inclusive policies aimed at LGBTQ+ leaders.
Only 26 out of 5,670 board seats in the Fortune 500 are held by LGBTQ+ leaders—several of which are held by the same person.
The report also found that only 41 Fortune 1,000 companies define board diversity as inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Boards need directors who bring a mix of perspectives to build and sustain inclusive cultures that rethink old practices and styles of operating.
Despite this, some progress has been made since the last Global Board Diversity Tracker two years ago.
In 2021, Nasdaq enacted board diversity requirements for its roughly 3,000 listed companies to hire at least one woman and a racially diverse or LGBTQ+ individual, in addition to requiring disclosure of the demographic makeup of their board directors.
In Canada, provisions have been put in place to increase female representation on boards to 50 per cent and other minority groups (including members of the LGBTQ+ community) to 30 per cent within five and seven years, respectively.
“It’s encouraging to see progress in the right direction, especially in countries such as Canada where there are provisions in place aimed at increasing women and minority representation, which includes LGBTQ+,” said Cynthia Soledad, co-leader of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practice at Egon Zehnder.
“As boards transition from focusing solely on representation to considering inclusion, it will be crucial to evolve all board processes to be more inclusive, including meeting norms, director onboarding, and board leadership succession planning. The board chair will play a critical role in making this transition toward action.”
For additional data and an action plan for inclusion within corporate boards, view the full Global Board Diversity Tracker report: https://www.egonzehnder.com/global-board-diversity-tracker.