Strides and Setbacks for Minorities in the Boardroom

It’s Women’s History Month, and corporate boards are no doubt moving in the right direction with an increased focus on DE&I and emphasis on the “S” in ESG in recent years. But new data from 2022 – out just in time for International Women’s Day this week – showed that the fight to get more women and diverse directors appointed to Boards is far from won. The latest Board Monitor from executive search company Heidrick & Struggles showed a drop in the number of appointments of women (40%, down 5% from 2021) and racial and ethnic minorities (34%, down 7% from 2021). As Alan Murray reported this week in CEO Daily, the organization posits that this could be because appointments overall were down, but also because there was an increase in appointments of people with CEO and CFO experience. Heidrick and Struggles CEO Krishnan Rajagopalan speculates that this expertise and prior experience was a focal point for companies still navigating the aftershocks of the pandemic.


Yet we know one year does not a trend make, so watch this space. Globally, things seem to be trending better. A recent piece from the CLS Blue Sky Blog outlined ISS’s findings from a close look of progress at Russell 3000 companies, which found that minority directors hold over 20% of Board seats, with a 90% jump in appointments of Black directors from 2019-2023. In the UK specifically, data from the FTSE Women Leaders Review showed remarkable progress for women at the top since 2011 – accounting for 40% of board seats at the top 350 companies that were part of their research. Although progress doesn’t equal parity, companies are reaping the benefits. For example, Moody’s found that there is higher credit worthiness at companies with more women board members.


On the labor level, Pew Research finds that in the past twenty years, the gender pay gap has hardly budged. Timely action is necessary, write Joseph Quinlan and Lauren Sanfilippo, as women still hover around 82 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts. Taylor Nicole Rogers and Madison Darbyshire of the FT highlight that Salesforce raises salaries for women every March in efforts to close the gap from within the company, and that some state governments have proposed legislation to require equity in hiring practices. While approaches to the stagnant wage gap vary, Barron’s writes that women now have the highest workforce participation rate ever recorded (77%), and account for 53 of the Fortune 500 CEOs, more than ever.


Have a great weekend,

GPP Team


Heidrick & Struggles: Board Monitor US 2023

Heidrick & Struggles discusses data revealing that in 2022, the boards of Fortune 500 companies largely reduced the number of nominees from underrepresented populations, and increasingly tapped candidates with previous C-suite roles. Read More

Financial Times: Women Have Raced into the Boardroom, but Now Comes the Hard Part

A recent report from the FTSE Women Leaders Review in the UK that has tracked women’s representation on Boards since 2011 found that European companies have made great strides in appointing women directors but less so for CEO and chair roles. Read More

Columbia Law School: ISS Discusses Russell 3000 Boards Becoming More Diverse 

Paul Hodgson, Aditi Aier and Carmen Luk pen a blog for Columbia’s Law School showing that over the past five years, there has been a 90% increase in Black directorships at companies in the Russell 3000, but that Black CEOs and board chairs “continue to be extremely rare.” Read More

Financial Times: Women Struggle to Close Corporate America’s Gender Gap

While mandatory diversity trainings are commonplace, Taylor Nicole Rogers and Madison Darbyshire share how progress for women in the workplace has been stalling for decades, with women making up only 16% and 27% of senior positions in the finance and law firms, respectively. Read More


CFO Daily: Here Come the Activists: Corporate America Girds for a Challenging 2023 Proxy Season

Sheryl Estrada writes about the looming, and potentially very busy, 2023 proxy season, and examines potential factors driving the surge of activism, such as universal proxy rules, the rise of “anti-woke” proposals and decreasing support for directors. Read More

Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance: Musings and Questions about the Universal Proxy Card

Arthur B. Crozier and Gabrielle E. Wolf discuss how universal proxy rules will affect the voting tendencies of the “Big Three” index funds, the directorship recommendations from proxy advisement firms and the increased likelihood of special interest groups nominating single-issue candidates. Read More

Reuters: Bath & Body Works Adds Director, Third Point Backs Off Proxy Fight

Third Point ends its proxy fight against Bath & Body Works after the two sides reached an agreement to appoint Thomas Kuhn, Managing Member at Doorbrook LLC, to the board, writes Svea Herbst-Bayliss. Read More

CNBC: Here’s Why Activist Investors Are on The Rise, According to Axios’ Michael Flaherty

Our former colleague and Axios editor joined CNBC’s Squawk Box to share his thoughts on the potential drivers influencing the recent rise in shareholder activism campaigns. Watch Here


Knowledge at Wharton: Choosing a New Board Leader: Eight Questions

Michael Useem, professor emeritus of management at UPenn’s Wharton, and a group of co-authors detail a list of questions company boards should use to guide their CEO selection processes. Read More

Leadership Next: CVS's Karen Lynch on the Future of Healthcare

Karen Lynch, CEO of CVS Health, joins Alan Murray's Leadership Next podcast to detail the rationale behind the company's recent acquisitions, and her vision for the company's future. Listen Here


The CLS Blue Sky Blog: SEC Commissioner Speaks at Columbia’s Going Public in the 2020s Conference

SEC Commissioner Mark Uyeda discusses the declining trend of companies choosing to go public and suggests the SEC can help revive the IPO market by fostering a regulatory environment that "appropriately balances the costs and benefits" of mandatory public disclosures. Read More

Breakingviews: M&A Bankers Trip Over Their Cracked Crystal Balls

Liam Proud examines how the current regulatory environment is impacting uncertainty investment bankers face in accurately assessing M&A volume. Read More


The Wall Street Journal: Justice Department Sues to Block JetBlue from Buying Spirit Airlines

Dave Michaels and Andrew Tangel report that the DOJ will sue to block the proposed JetBlue and Spirit merger to prevent further industry consolidation. JetBlue maintains the merger will help it better compete with the U.S.’s four largest domestic airlines. Read More

Debevoise & Plimpton: ESG and Antitrust: More Focus but No Consensus

In their latest “Debevoise in Depth” update, the law firm stresses that ESG-related initiatives are still subject to antitrust scrutiny and lists potential tactics to help companies and asset managers minimize antitrust risks around their ESG efforts. Read More


New York Times: On Wall St., ‘Socially Responsible’ Is Common Sense. In Congress, It’s Political

Jeff Sommer writes that while ESG investing has become commonplace, many federal and state politicians have turned discussion around ESG initiatives into a political issue and are filing suits to change Labor Department rules. Read More

Institutional Investor: The Backlash Against ESG Faces Its Own Backlash

Anti-ESG legislation is being met with pushback from both the business and political worlds, as divesting from “woke” companies is proving costly over time for pension funds highlights Michelle Celarier. Read More


This week, GPPers attended the launch party for Semafor Business and Finance editor Liz Hoffman’s latest book Crash Landing -- which takes a detailed and revelatory look at how the world’s biggest companies navigated the most unprecedented economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its potential ramifications for "the future of work, corporate leadership, and capitalism itself.” Congratulations, Liz! You can read an excerpt in Semafor and buy the book here or at your favorite bookseller.


GPP also welcomed Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist (and former WSJ colleague) Jim Stewart to our office. We discussed his new book, Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy, over lunch and lively conversation about the jaw-dropping moments in the book. Co-authored by Rachel Abrams, Unscripted is a prime example of investigative journalism at its best — brimming with fascinating analysis and shocking details. Needless to say, we didn’t have trouble finishing it (and we were honored to talk about it with Jim in-person). Buy it here!


  • Ray McGuire, a longtime investment banker, will fill a new role at Lazard as President next month. Read More

  • Sandeep Singh Aujla is set to take over as CFO of Intuit on August 1. Read More

  • JP Morgan Chase named Keith Canton head of its Americas Equity Capital Markets division. Read More

  • Joe Montesano, Goldman Sachs' head of equity trading for the Americas, is leaving the Bank after over 20 years of service. Read More

  • Ian Nussbaum will join Latham & Watkins’ New York office as a partner in the firm’s M&A practice. Read More  
Let us know if you have any comments or suggestions for our newsletter format.
Follow us on Twitter @GladstonePlace
Please feel free to forward this along.
Gladstone Place Partners | (212) 230-5930 |
Facebook  Twitter  Linkedin