Study suggests men in the boardroom still don't value diversity

Most board directors (96 percent) believe diversity is important, according to a recent survey from PwC. However, only about one in four male directors believe board diversity will improve company performance.

Comparatively, almost nine in 10 female directors believe it will improve performance. But women only make up 20 percent of boards, at least at S&P 500 companies, so the female majority opinion has little sway.

PwC suggests the diverging opinions stem from a disagreement about the pool of qualified diverse board candidates available. The survey indicates 87 percent of respondents recruit new members by recommendation, 60 percent rely on search firms and 52 percent use management recommendations. And while almost all female directors believe diverse, qualified candidates are available, only two-thirds of men feel the same way.

Another possible factor is that diversity still lags at the executive level of most companies, where directors often look for successors. PwC reports that only 4 percent of S&P 500 CEOs are female and only 1 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are African American.

These results suggest boards will have to look beyond the C-Suite and peer recommendations to help boost board diversity and reach gender parity in the coming years.

 

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