Board Monitor US 2021

Jun 11, 2021

Notable progress for Black directors—and some indications that board refreshment strategies need to be more comprehensive

Posted by Heidrick & Struggles

We are delighted to announce the launch of our twelfth annual Board Monitor US 2021 report, which tracks and analyzes 2020 board trends amongst non-executive director new appointments at the Fortune 500 companies in the US. 


Top findings from the new 2021 report include:

        Diversity in the boardroom: 

        The share of racially and ethnically diverse appointments climbed to 41% of new directors in 2020, up significantly from 23% in 2019 – looking ahead, boards have an important opportunity to build on this positive momentum by taking a comprehensive, holistic and sustained approach to adding new diverse directors.

        2020 saw a record increase in appointments of new Black directors, surging to 28% of the board seats filled compared to 10% in 2019.

        New women directors dropped to 41%, down from a record high of 44% in 2019 – the first decrease seen since 2016

        New Latinx, Asian and Asian American appointments were mostly flat with the share of new Latinx directors dropping one percentage point to 4%, and the ranks of Asians and Asian Americans edging up one percentage point to 9%.

        CEO/CFO appointments in decline: 2020 saw the percentage of current or former CEOs and CFOs named to board seats drop to the lowest mark in the study’s history, sliding to 51% from 62% in 2019.

        Industry experience and first-time board directors on the rise: Previous experience within the same industry increased across most industries from the previous year, and boards showed a willingness to bring on first-time directors with 38% of appointees having no previous board experience, up from 28% in 2019.

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