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Press release/statement

African Americans Are Isolated From Boards

NEW YORK – A new report reveals that African Americans remain disproportionately excluded from corporate and nonprofit board membership in New York City: Of the 697 directors that sit on the boards of the city’s 25 largest employers, only 5.7 percent are black. The study, by John Morning and national policy center Demos, also surveyed black participation on the boards of 14 premiere cultural institutions in New York City, finding that only 33 of the total 581 directors were African American.

The report, entitled “Marking Time: Black Board Participation in New York City, 2.0,” updates findings from a similar report conducted in 2007. Despite the historic election of the first African American president and the tumultuous corporate reshuffling prompted by the Great Recession, black membership on New York City’s most influential corporate and nonprofit boards has remained largely unchanged over the last five years.

The report examines in close detail each organization’s board membership and finds that, while African American membership remains limited overall, several prominent New York City institutions lack any black board members altogether, such as Bloomberg LLP, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the New York Times.

The report concludes with several recommendations for promoting greater black participation in corporate and nonprofit boardrooms, including:

  • CEO’s must recognize the influence they have in determining board membership and take responsibility for promoting greater diversity.
  • Organizations must understand that they stand to benefit from the expanded views of potential board members from the African American community, including black officials currently serving in the public sector and in academe.

“Despite unrivaled economic, political, and social change, opportunities for blacks to share in more equitable board leadership remain on hold,” said John Morning, author of the report. “These institutions are marking time, not marching forward; and more can and must be done to end the boardroom status quo that reinforces racial stereotypes and deepens their impact on people of color in ways large and small.  As our figures show, engaged, positive action by boards is necessary to have a society of civic and economic fairness for all.”

“The Great Recession was an important reminder that our largest corporations and non-profits wield a tremendous amount of power,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Demos. “These powerful organizations should be held responsible for having an informed board of directors that represents diverse backgrounds and interests. Sadly this is not yet the case at many institutions, but John Morning’s work is an important step in the direction of real reform.”