Two years after launching its Together Forward @Work initiative, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is partnering with other organizations to support racial equity and representation once again.
In August, SHRM collaborated with the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 23,000 board members, and Vista Equity Partners, a leading global investment firm focused exclusively on enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses, to launch a new program to increase diversity among directors serving on the compensation and nomination committees of private and public company boards.
The initiative provides people from underrepresented backgrounds with access to 12 months of detailed curriculum to prepare them for board service on compensation, nomination and governance committees. The program will emphasize general business, HR and committee readiness.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM president and chief executive officer and external board member at iCIMS, a Vista Equity Partners portfolio company, said diversity across perspectives and backgrounds gives companies a competitive advantage.
"It's a privilege to partner with NACD and Vista on this new pipeline program that will empower the talented but underrepresented individuals in our business community from diverse backgrounds and create expanded opportunity for the company boards on which they serve," he said.
Lack of diversity among board representation has long been a problem. A 2021 report of 200 companies by Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance indicated that while board diversity has slightly improved in the last decade, there hasn't been a substantive increase in the rate of representation of minority men in either Fortune 100 or 500 companies.
In 2021, people of color made up only 21 percent of all S&P 500 directors, according to the U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index, and just 49 S&P 500 companies were led by Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian/Native Alaskan or multiracial CEOs.
This new program will look to build a diverse pipeline of board candidates for companies across industries.
"Paramount to Vista's DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion] efforts is building a diverse pipeline of talent within the firm, our portfolio and the business community at large," said Bessie Watts, director of Vista's external board of directors program. "By working with SHRM and NACD to establish this new program, we are helping to create a diverse pipeline of talent for board oversight roles, which, alongside our other programs and initiatives, will ensure diverse backgrounds and perspectives are represented at all levels of an organization."
Peter Gleason, NACD president and CEO, expressed excitement to work with SHRM and Vista to support this diversity, equity and inclusion effort.
"With the new program, we will offer executives from a diverse set of backgrounds access to our premier director education, including the opportunity to earn their NACD Directorship Certification credential, continuing education sessions, extensive networking opportunities, and access to NACD's leading governance research and resources," he said.
SHRM will lead the program in identifying and sourcing high-performing, diverse executives. Vista and NACD will partner to equip the cohort with a deep understanding of the responsibilities associated with effectively fulfilling a board role and ensure exposure to corporate board opportunities through their broader ecosystems.
The first cohort in this program is in the process of completing its curriculum. Its members are working toward earning NACD Directorship Certification credentials.