Ten private equity firms have pledged to each create and post five board seats to make them available to minority and women candidates, participating in an initiative to increase diversity on company boards of directors.
Aurora Capital Partners, Clearlake Capital, Genstar Capital, Grain Management, Hellman & Friedman, Hg, Insight Partners, K1 Investment Management, TA Associates and Vista Equity Partners have committed to the board initiative announced by Diligent Corp., provider of company governance software and a portfolio company of Clearlake and Insight.
“In order to address social and economic justice, we need scalable solutions that speak to both Main Street and the boardroom,” said Robert F. Smith, founder, chairman and CEO of Vista, who won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for 2019 Dealmaker of the Year. “We’re proud of the work Vista Equity Partners’ portfolio companies are doing to address access, equality, and building the talent pipeline, and we’re thrilled to also join Diligent’s smart and scalable initiative to increase board diversity. This is the right way to empower corporations to make strides towards equality of opportunity. Vista proudly joins Diligent and its partners in taking this critical step along the path toward a more just and equitable future.”
The Diligent initiative “aligns closely with the long-held principle at Clearlake that diversity drives differentiated outcomes,” said José Feliciano, Clearlake co-founder and managing partner. “We are proud to partner alongside Diligent in what we hope will become a long list of our peers, as we collectively advocate and take the necessary steps to ensure a major change at the board level.”
Also as part of the initiative, Diligent will build a searchable database of diverse, board-ready executives who could be tapped to fill board vacancies; partner with the Spencer Stuart executive search firm to boost the visibility of board openings for diverse candidates; and partner with Ascend, the Executive Leadership Council, the Latino Corporate Directors Association and the National Association of Corporate Directors to promote and create opportunities for their members.
“There is an urgent need for more diverse board members and executives at companies around the world but change of this magnitude cannot be done alone,” said Esther Aguilera, president and CEO of the Latino Corporate Directors Association.
Currently, 84 percent of Fortune 500 company board members are white, and those companies have only four Black CEOs, according to Diligent.
“By increasing the number and visibility of diverse board members, truly changing composition from the top, we believe organizations will be able to better serve stakeholders and create long-lasting, positive change in the world. Brian Stafford, CEO of Diligent. “There is no doubt that successful and visionary corporate leadership today requires diverse viewpoints, perspectives, and experiences that create a richer fabric for guidance and decision making.”