Amazon’s Campaign for Board Diversity

The world's largest global e-commerce business has continued to strengthen its board with the appointment of its second African-American board member. Read our blog to learn more

05-03-2019

Business

Amazon continued to strengthen the diversity of its board last month with the appointment of Rosalind Brewer, former COO of Starbucks. Brewer becomes the fourth woman and second African American woman to join Amazon's board. Given Brewer's breadth of retail experience, she is the perfect fit to improve both Amazon’s needs, its board diversity and retail proficiency.

The world’s largest global e-commerce business had been interested in recruiting Brewer to its board for some time. Having initially appointed her to its leadership development and compensation committee last year, Amazon selected her to replace the board seat previously occupied by John Seely Brown. Brewer's board appointment is a very encouraging victory for all diverse professionals who seek a reflection of themselves at director-level.

Amazon, like many other global organisations, is under pressure to diversify its board. Last year, in efforts to strengthen its ethnic representation, Amazon adopted the Rooney rule. The rule calls for any boards considering new members to shortlist qualified women and minorities as a priority. Whilst this is a step in the right direction and other global organizations such as Uber, Facebook and Pinterest have too adopted the rule, many businesses still have a long way to go to be considered as truly diverse.

According to Deloitte's 2018 board minority census, minority women currently hold less than five percent of board seats within Fortune 500 companies. In similar research compiled by research and insights business, Catalyst, it was found only a third of S&P businesses had three or more women on their boards in 2018.

Sir John Parker, former chairman of mining company Anglo American, conducted a review on boardroom diversity in 2016 and set the 2021 benchmark for FTSE 100 organizations to have at least one ethnic minority member on their board by 2021. However, in a survey from business diversity advocates Green Park, it was estimated that it could take FTSE 100 businesses nearly half a century to meet this Government-backed target.

The firm went on to disclose that efforts to get more women into boardroom leadership roles are paying dividends, but the same cannot be said for minority ethnic women. Half of FTSE 100 firms do not have any non-white directors or executive committee members. Excluding non-executive directors, two-thirds of Britain's companies still have an all-white leadership team. Female representation on boards has increased, with women now making up more than a quarter of board members, although with so little of these seats held by minority women there is still a long way to go.

In order to progress, there is still a serious and courageous conversation organisations need to have about race and ethnicity. Though with Amazon's campaign for diversity setting the tone in business news last week, perhaps this is the wake-up call businesses have needed.

If your board is looking for diverse representatives to add to your board then we can help. Our business services team can identify and introduce you to candidates from our broad talent pool. Click here to learn more

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