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More corporate directors welcome rules to boost board diversity

The share of corporate directors who say specific policies are necessary to make boards more diverse increased markedly over the past year, as more rules aimed at doing just that crop up across the U.S.

Foto: Line Ørnes Søndergaard

One-third of directors polled by professional services firm PwC said "no action" was necessary to achieve diversity on public company boards, down from 71% who said the same in last year's survey. Nearly two-thirds supported stock-exchange listing rules requiring disclosure of board diversity, such as those Nasdaq Inc. recently implemented, and one in five favored laws that mandate minority directors, like the bill California passed last year.

The shift in directors' thinking comes as they're increasingly pressured to improve gender and racial diversity. Investors such as BlackRock and Vanguard Group are voting against members of non-diverse boards, and the new California law fines companies that don't comply. The percentage of new Black directors on Fortune 500 boards almost tripled in 2020 compared with previous years, recruiter Heidrick & Struggles found, but the boards of the nation's largest companies are still overwhelmingly comprised of White men and women...

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