Private companies have a very public diversity problem.

It is no secret that diversity in all boardrooms is still lacking. But for privately held companies — who are lagging behind their public counterparts — the careful scrutiny from regulators, activists, investors and stakeholders at large hasn’t been nearly as significant. 

Until now. 

In the New York Times piece The Missing Piece in the Push for Boardroom Diversity, Former Chief Executive of Xerox Ursula Burns states:

"If this isn't fixed, it will be fixed *for* us." 

Being a privately held company, with no plans to go public, does not make one immune to the mandates and regulations of those who are public. 

Consumers and employees have never had as much access to information — with as much speed and ease as they do today; and the expectations they have for the companies they spend their time working for — and money with — has never been as high. 

Whether you are “public” or “private” — and are required to share information about board diversity, and other efforts towards inclusion, equity and access — is irrelevant. They expect transparency, inside and out.  

So what can you do to proactively diversify your boardroom before it's reactively fixed for you?

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Is our boardroom an inclusive environment? 
  • Do we have a board diversity policy?
  • Are we addressing unconscious bias?
  • Is equity a part of our mission, not just our mission statement? 
  • Is inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) included in our annual Board assessments?
  • Do we elect Board leadership who value IDEA?
  • And most importantly: Are we hiding behind our private company status when it comes to IDEA?
Content that should be framed
The current state of diversity, equity & inclusion

Corporate directors set goals, and some have begun to make progress, with investors, activists and others tracking their commitments on racial equity. But conspicuously absent is a discussion of diversity efforts at privately held companies. Private companies don’t receive the same scrutiny.

By Andrew Ross Sorkin | The New York Times
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By Jodi Kantor | The New York Times
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The Racism of the 'Hard-to-Find' Qualified Black Candidate Trope

Stereotypes and racial bias in hiring and promotion are damaging at personal, career, and organizational levels. The importance of hiring and promotion in the workforce makes the problematic trope more than just a stereotypical cliché: its damaging effects are an enduring racist cog in the wheel of progress.

By Autumn McDonald | Stanford Social Innovation Review
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Even though women with children want to return to work, they are often challenged with virtual school and daycare closures, lack of childcare and increased child care needs. Companies can address the needs of working mothers with caregiving benefits, competitive salaries, and flexibility. 

By Shelley Zalis | Forbes
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Calls for More Ambitious Gender Equity Targets to Tackle Gender Gap

Following the biggest set-back for women’s equality in a generation, and as children and workers finally return to school and workplace, Suki Sandhu OBE has called on all companies to ‘stop shelving gender equality and set the precedent’ if we are to solve the pandemic gender inequality crisis.   

By Suki Sandhu | The HR Director
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It’s clear that companies must address the systemic race and gender issues, but women of color shouldn’t have to wait until they do. Here’s how one company created a career accelerator for women of color — and how you can implement a similar program at your own organization.

By Gayle Allen and Bie Aweh | Harvard Business Review
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As millions of working parents ready for a return to office work, there are key lessons we can all take back with us about leading our teams and how we show up: quick decision-making, serial-tasking, managing a diverse team, and trading perfectionism for compassion.

By Sanyin Siang and Ron Carucci | Harvard Business Review
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Leading Through a New Brand of Employee Burnout

With a new array of stressors—remote-work arrangements that challenge work-life balance, Zoom fatigue, anxiety over the virus itself—the idea of what it means to look after your staff’s well-being requires a rethink. The usual rhythm of vacations and holidays may not do the trick.

By Mark Athitakis | Associations Now

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Change makers who are shattering glass ceilings & defying odds
Maia Chaka made history as she became the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game. "This historic moment to me is an honor and it's a privilege that I've been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America," said Chaka in a video tweeted by the NFL.
Those inspiring us, putting in the work & wasting no time doing it

EMILY's List, a political organization that helps fundraise and elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, has selected former Kamala Harris senior adviser
Laphonza Butler as its next president. Butler will be the first woman of color, and the first mother, to lead in its 36-year history.

Walgreens Boots Alliance chief executive Rosalind Brewer has begun creating her executive team, announcing three key hires the company says “represent a clear signal of her priorities” for the drugstore chain’s future that includes healthcare, digital transformation, DEI and growth. 

Diverse, equitable and inclusive books we love!  
The essential self-help book for women of color to heal and *thrive* in the workplace. Pre-order the new book Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Harts for honest advice on how to deal with microaggressions, heal from racialized trauma, and find relief from invisible workplace burdens. 
Resources + Education = Intentional Actions
🎙 Listen (1 hr 22 min): Minda Harts Right Within Playlist on Spotify

💻 Watch (46 min): Mental Health in the Workplace

📖 Read (5 min): 6 Strategies for Exhausted Working Parents

And if you do one thing today... make it this:
Make your boardroom accessible for diverse members.


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