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Number of HR Leaders on Boards Up 300% Since 2017, as Board Diversity Increased in 2021

A new survey by Allegis Partners shows a dramatic increase in HR leaders on public company boards in the Russell 3000 since 2017, reflecting the increased importance of strategic HR issues on board agendas.

Majority of HR leader directors appointed since 2018: 211 HR leaders hold 250 seats on 242 public company Boards in the Russell 300.  Fifty-two percent of those leader-directors were elected in 2019, 2020, or 2021. Among the 211 HR leaders, 151 spent the majority of their careers as HR leaders while 60 spent a significant portion of their careers in HR.

CHRO directors expand board diversity: Among the 211 HR leaders on public boards, 

  • 89% are diverse by gender, ethnicity, or race;
  • 78% are female; and
  • Of the 47 male HR leader-directors, 23 (49%) are diverse by race or ethnicity.

60% of HR leaders elected to boards last year had not served on a public company board previously. The increased demand for HR leaders as public company board directors makes it especially important that there is a fit between the individual and the board. For a helpful checklist, see this recent story.

Record number of women on Fortune 500 Boards in 2021: According to a recent report by Heidrick & Struggles, women comprised a record 45% of new Fortune 500 board appointments in 2021, while Black directors comprised 26% of new board members, a slight decrease from 2020. Hispanic and Asian/Asian American directors comprised just 6% and 9% of new board members, respectively.

Forthcoming Center On Executive Compensation guide to highlight expanded HR role on compensation committees: Based on interviews with compensation committee chairs, CHROs, and external experts, the Center’s forthcoming guide will discuss the trend of expanded compensation committee charters to address human capital management, talent strategy, and diversity, equity & inclusion, among other items.

Published on: May 20, 2022

Authors: Timothy J. Bartl

Topics: Compensation Committee and Board, Inclusion and Diversity

Timothy J. Bartl

President and CEO, HR Policy Association

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Contact Timothy J. Bartl LinkedIn

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