Participation on corporate and influential non-profit boards is a critical measure of the integration of any group—in this report African-Americans—into the fabric of decision- making in our society. While government is one place where decisions are made that affect the lives of Americans, these institutions make major decisions about employment, location of enterprises, marketing, and—in the case of the cultural institutions—how we see ourselves as a society. A city, and a democracy, that is vibrant and inclusive will make continuous progress in the diversity of its major institutions, and it is a measure worth serious attention on a continuing basis.

This 2010 survey follows an initial 2007 version that looked at the participation of black directors and trustees at New York City’s 25 largest private employers, and at 14 premier metropolitan institutions. The racial data for the 2007 study was compiled by Brandsphere, and for the current study, as of the end of 3Q 2010, by Bayley Consults LLC, with corroborating work by Dēmos researchers. The organizations selected provide a lens to judge what level of representation the city’s 2.03 million black residents—25.1% of New York’s population—have in these positions of power and influence outside of government. This update was made possible by a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, under its president Dr. Vartan Gregorian.

The Results, Then And Now

The numbers prove to be low by any measure, and the trend is static. In one of the most dramatic four-year periods in American history, with the occurrence of the Great Reces- sion and the election of President Barack Obama, none of these events helped the cause of African-American board membership.

  • The 25 largest employers in 2010 had a total of 697 directors. Only 40 were black; an average of 1.66 per board.
  • Black directors on these boards were 5.7% of the total.
  • The 14 influential institutions surveyed had a slightly higher average of 2.36 African- American trustees on each board.
  • All 39 organizations in the study totaled 73 black directors. Four of their boards had no black members: Bloomberg LLP, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and The New York Times.
  • 25% of New York City’s population of 8.1 million is black. This is more than 2 million people—equivalent to the fourth largest city in the U.S. and ahead of fifth-place Philadelphia with 1.4 million residents.

Changes In The Lists, Corporate And Institutional

The 2010 list showed a number of significant changes from 2007. Seven of the companies were newcomers to the list: American Express, Bloomberg LLP, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ernst & Young, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Thomson Reuters, and UBS. Departed from the list in 2010, in some cases not surprisingly, were Bear Stearns, Medisys Health, Montefiore Medical Center, Merrill Lynch, Personal-Touch Home Care, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, and United Parcel Service.

Overall, the 2010 top 25 had a total of 697 directors, 96 fewer than in 2007, and an aver- age board size of 29, down from the earlier average of almost 32 per board, a 10 percent drop. This no doubt reflects the economic duress of the intervening years and a drawing in of corporate horns. Where the original list of employers employed 315,000 people (or 11% of the city’s workforce then), that same top 25 list employed 275,400 in 2010, a 12.5% decline.