BOARDS NOT SOLD ON DIVERSITY: Despite investor concerns, directors don't see the value of diversity efforts.

AuthorMcCollum, T.

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Board members aren't convinced of the importance of racial and gender diversity in the boardroom, according to PwC's 2017 Annual Corporate Directors Survey of 886 U.S. directors. Only 24 percent say racial diversity on the board is very important to bringing diversity of thought to its meetings, while an equal percentage say it is not important at all.

Respondents are somewhat more favorable about gender diversity. More than half (55 percent) say their board needs more gender diversity, and 41 percent say it is very important to developing diversity of thought. Female respondents are more likely to consider gender (68 percent) and racial (42 percent) diversity to be very important, the report notes.

"There's still more work to do on areas such as increasing boardroom diversity, including gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity," says Paula Loop, leader of PwC's Governance Insights Center. Just 21 percent of S&P 500 company board seats are held by women, while among the top 200 S&P companies, racial minorities hold only 15 percent of board seats.

Loop notes that investors are pushing a progressive agenda on diversity, social issues, and shareholder engagement. Indeed, nearly 70 percent of investors responding to a recent Investor Shareholder Services (ISS) global survey view the absence of women on boards as...

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