Commits to identifying and connecting 250 Black business executives to board opportunities.
The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 21,000 board members, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (U.S. Chamber), the world’s largest business organization representing companies of all sizes across every sector of the economy, have announced a partnership to advance boardroom diversity. Building on both organizations’ longstanding commitment to diversity and equality of opportunity, this initiative aims to increase opportunities for Black business leaders to further their contributions to the economy through board service.
NACD helps boards strengthen investor trust and public confidence by ensuring that today’s directors are well prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. World-class boards join NACD to elevate performance, gain foresight and instill confidence. Fostering collaboration among directors, investors and corporate governance stakeholders, NACD has been setting the standard for responsible board leadership for 40 years.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s members range from the small businesses and local chambers of commerce that line the Main Streets of America to leading industry associations and large corporations. The U.S. Chamber is their voice in Washington, across the country and around the world advocating for pro-business policies that help businesses create jobs and grow the economy.
“We consider diversity as a business imperative and we know that companies that embrace diversity outperform others,” says Peter R. Gleason, CEO of NACD. “Not only does this initiative increase opportunities for Black executives to serve on boards, but by diversifying the candidate pool, boards will be able to tap into fresh skillsets that are desperately needed in board and corporate governance today.”
In 2019, 37% of S&P 500 firms did not have any Black board members, and Black directors comprised just 4.1% of Russell 3000 board members. Boards often cite the lack of qualified Black directors in the pipeline for board service as the reason for their lack of diversity.
Through this initiative, NACD and the U.S. Chamber are broadening the pipeline by opening doors for Black executives who have the business leadership experience, skills and judgment to serve on boards, but who lack the access and visibility needed to be considered. The initial goal is to identify at least 250 Black business leaders to join the Accelerate program by 2022.
Building upon the U.S. Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity initiative, and NACD Accelerate™, this initiative will provide education and exposure to ensure participants receive foundational instruction on the role of board and corporate governance.
The Equality of Opportunity Initiative is aimed at closing America’s opportunity gaps in education, employment and entrepreneurship, as well as addressing inequality in criminal justice, with the U.S. Chamber partnering with more than 500 chambers and associations across the country to pursue policy and private sector solutions to bridge underlying racial divides that contribute to broader, systemic inequalities in society.
NACD Accelerate is a unique two-year program that creates a pathway for executives with little or no experience in the boardroom to prepare for board service. Participants will be provided with the tools, resources, and exposure that are essential to launching a successful career as a director. NACD Accelerate™ is the only NACD program that does not require current board service.
“Increasing diversity in business, including in the boardroom, is not only the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing. Greater diversity helps companies get closer to their customers, recruit from a richer pool of talent and experience, and bring different ideas and viewpoints to their business. It is also an important way we can help solve opportunity gaps that have held back too many Americans from achieving their full potential,” says Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.