A group of 17 companies, including Zillow and M.M. LaFleur, has signed a pledge to add at least one Black member to their board of directors within a year.
The Wednesday announcement was made by founding members of the Board Challenge, an initiative to increase Black representation in corporate boardrooms. It’s the latest notable step forward in Corporate America’s movement to increase diversity and undo anti-Black business practices in the wake of George Floyd.
Board Challenge Co-founder Guy Primus said the initiative serves as a primary step in creating change in US boardrooms. Primus, who also serves as CEO of Valence, a network of more than 10,000 Black professionals, also said the Black community is receiving a groundswell of support from Corporate America in 2020.
“The Board Challenge offers a tangible, measurable commitment for companies and leaders looking around asking ‘What can we do?’” Primus told CNN Business in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “It is an opportunity for business leaders to take action, open doors, and endorse Black leadership at the highest levels.”
The list of the Board Challenge’s 17 founding pledge partners also includes Accolade, Altimeter Growth Corp, Amperity, Bolster, Gusto, Heritage-Crystal Clean, Inc., Heritage Environmental Services, HopSkipDrive, Kin, Nextdoor, PagerDuty, RealSelf, Ripple, Senreve, and Vinyl Me, Please.
The initiative is receiving additional support from 27 charter pledge partners — including Verizon, Merck, Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange — that already have at least one Black member on their boards of directors. Resources from the campaign’s Charter Pledge Partners will be used to “accelerate change.”
Zillow co-founder and CEO Rich Barton says the nation has reached a new point of reckoning to address racial issues and equal representation.
“Business leaders of all backgrounds can’t let this moment pass,” Barton told CNN Business in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “If we aren’t part of the solution, we are part of the problem. … Being passive at the most senior level is not going to get the job done. We need to be active.”