There are still a few large American public companies that have kept women and minorities off of their boards. It must be hard to do in an age of activism which makes their efforts all the more puzzling.
A new look at the problems comes from “Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards―2010 Alliance for Board Diversity Census” which was published today by an alliance of Catalyst, The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP), and The Prout Group, Inc. It would be a temptation to call the data self-interested, but since it comes from each company’s own SEC filings, that is hardly the case. The information shows that “Fortune 500 boards were less diverse than Fortune 100 boards. Men held close to 85 percent of all board seats. White men dominated the board room, holding 77.6 percent of board seats. Minority men held 6.8 percent. White women held 12.7 percent. Minority women held 3.0 percent.”
It should be expected that the firms which have no women or minorities on their boards are run by old white men. And, why not? They have their positions to be preserved along with those of their colleagues and lieutenants. If these men can dominate their boards, why not do so? It is a rare group or person who likes real competition.
HCA Holdings (NYSE: HCA), the healthcare services company, is run by Richard M. Bracken. He sits on the Federation of American Hospitals board, which that organization might eventually find uncomfortable. HCA does not have a single woman or minority on its board, although certainly half of its customers are women. Many of the HCA directors went to Ivy League schools.
L-3 (NYSE: LLL), the defense contractor, is run by Michael T. Strianese. Robert B. Millard is lead director and chairman of the executive committee. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. It’s a wonder that the federal government allows such a large contractor to do business with it given the absence of minorities and women on its board.
Pipeline company Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMP) is run by Richard D. Kinder. C. Berdon Lawrence, the chairman of Kirby Corp, is Kinder’s lead director.
Pilgrim’s Pride (NYSE: PPC), the poultry firm, is run by Bill Lovette who only joined the firm recently. Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, 82, has served as a director since 1968. He is also a former chairman of the National Chicken Council.
Sonic Automotive (NYSE: SAH), the car retailer, is run by O. Bruton Smith. He is also a director and the controlling stockholder of Speedway Motorsports. William R. Brooks is another Sonic director. He is also a Vice President of Charlotte Motor Speedway and a Vice President and Director of Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Douglas A. McIntyre