Combined, women and minorities have spending power in the many trillions. From a business standpoint, companies should be knocking one another over to cater to these groups, including by making sure women, blacks, browns and other minorities have a place in their boardrooms.
Sadly, that is not the case. The latest report from the UNC School of Law Director Diversity Initiative shows that boards of directors of North Carolina-based corporations are still heavily peopled by white men.
Some of the report’s findings are just downright mind-boggling. Charlotte-based Cato jumps out. The women’s clothing chain, popular with many women of color, has no women and no minorities on its seven-person board. Yes, you read right; a clothing chain for women has no female voice on its decision-making board.
Old Dominion – the Thomasville-based freight company whose trucks are omnipresent on roads and interstates – was founded in 1934, and its board looks like one from the 1930s. All nine members of the company’s board are white men. Even Greensboro-based The Fresh Market, a company most would consider progressive, has pitiful board diversity. The chain, whose Robinhood Road location in Winston-Salem is frequented by many-a black folk, has no minorities on its 10-member board and just one woman.
Local residents can take pride and some solace in knowing that the boards of locally-based companies were ranked among the most diverse. Nearly half of the nine members of the HanesBrands board are female or a minority. Like HanesBrands, Krispy Kreme’s board has two female and two minority members. Four women and three minorities sit on the 15-member BB&T board, while a woman and two minorities help make-up the nine-member board of Reynolds American.
We believe companies and nonprofits are stronger when they have voices that truly represent America at the table, Winston-Salem-based companies are testament to that.
Shameful is the only word appropriate to describe those businesses that still subscribe to the ol’ boys club philosophy. They are stuck in a time-warp. Minority and female consumers ignoring these companies the way the companies have ignored them may be the only thing that will jar them into this century.