The diversity of corporate boards in North Carolina has stagnated since 2009 and significantly lags behind the diversity of Fortune 100 boardrooms, according to data recently released by the School of Law Director Diversity Initiative (DDI) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
As of Sept. 30, 2012, only 12.02 percent of board members of the largest 50 corporations headquartered in North Carolina were female. This was down slightly from 12.24 percent female board members reported in 2009. Minorities constituted 7.08 percent in the 2012 study of board members, up slightly from 7.05 percent in 2009.
Only 13 of the boards had at least 25 percent diverse membership, down from 16 boards in 2009. The companies with the most diverse boards are: VF, where women and minorities make-up 45.5 of the board; Hanesbrands (44.4 percent), Bank of America (37.5 percent), Furiex Pharmaceuticals (33.3 percent), Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (33.3 percent), Red Hat (33.3 percent), BB&T (33.3 percent), Laboratory Corp. of America (30 percent), Family Dollar Stores (27.3 percent), Lowes (27.3 percent), Piedmont Natural Gas (25 percent) and SPX (25 percent).
Twelve companies had no females or minorities on their boards, up from 11 in 2009. Those companies are: Hatteras Financial, Old Dominion Freight Line, Polypore International, Cato (Fashions), Sonic Automotive, Speedway Motorsports Inc., Triangle Capital, SciQuest, FNB United, Pike Electric, Insteel Industries and Capital Bank.
The data show that large corporate boards in North Carolina are less diverse than the boards of Fortune 100 companies. According to a survey conducted by the Alliance for Board Diversity, as of 2010, 18 percent of Fortune 100 board members were female and 15.4 percent were minorities.
The DDI selected the 50 boards from the list of largest North Carolina companies ranked by market capitalization and reported in the August 2012 issue of Business North Carolina.
Board diversity is important for a number of reasons, according to Lissa Broome, Wells Fargo Professor of Banking Law at UNC School of Law and director of the DDI.
“A diverse group can help avoid groupthink and bring new insights and ideas. Sometimes homogeneous groups get into too much of a comfort zone and would benefit from new thinking and viewpoints,” Broome said. “It is disappointing that North Carolina–based companies have stalled in their board diversity. U.S. corporations used to lead the world in board diversity, but now they are falling behind as other countries such as Norway, France and Spain have imposed quotas to increase board gender diversity.”