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Nasdaq Continues Commitment to Equality by Becoming a Signatory of The Board Challenge

As part of its continuing commitment to equality, Nasdaq signed on as a Charter Pledge Partner to #TheBoardChallenge.

As part of its continuing commitment to equality, Nasdaq announced on Sept. 9 that it is a signatory of The Board Challenge, a pledge seeking to enhance representation in the boardroom by asking companies to retain or add a Black director to their board. Joining the movement as a Charter Pledge Partner, Nasdaq will use its resources to accelerate change and support the goal of true and full representation on all boards of directors.

Galvanized by the energy of the Black Lives Matter movement, The Board Challenge is asking all boards without a Black director to add a Black director in the next 12 months. Companies that currently have one or more Black directors join The Board Challenge as Charter Pledge Partners, lending their experience to help accelerate the change in the broader corporate community. Nasdaq joins several other Nasdaq-listed companies as a Charter Pledge Partner, including SurveyMonkey (SVMK) and United (UAL).

“A board that better reflects all the communities it serves is in the interest of all stakeholders,” said Brad Gerstner, founder and CEO of Altimeter Capital and a founding member of The Board Challenge. “We will be accountable to this pledge and commit to reporting out on our progress on representation every twelve months.”

Addressing racial disparity in the boardroom has become a focal point for directors, especially amid the global protests against racial inequality. Still, the numbers suggest that much work is needed to level the playing field. Research by Black Enterprise found that 187 S&P 500 companies did not have a Black board member in 2019, a 2-percentage point improvement from the prior year. Furthermore, recent data for Fortune 500 boards indicates that white men hold 66% of board seats and white women make up 18%, but only 9% of board seats are held by African Americans (men and women), according to online talent marketplace theBoardlist, which is a founding member of The Board Challenge.

Given the dearth of Black directors, some lawmakers are looking to mandate diversity in the boardroom. California state assembly members recently sent the governor a bill that would require public companies with headquarters in the state to have at least one person of color serving on their corporate boards by the end of 2021, following in the footsteps of a 2018 California law that required companies to have female directors. While the bill has yet to be signed into law, it highlights the urgency behind the movement to establish better representation in the boardroom.

By becoming a signatory for The Board Challenge, Nasdaq marks the latest step in its commitment to equality, building upon initiatives announced earlier this summer, including publicly disclosing diversity metrics and making investments to enhance training, development, professional advancement and talent acquisition programs.

“Our ultimate goal is for Nasdaq’s team to reflect the diversity of the populations of each of the countries where we operate,” Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman wrote in the opening letter of Nasdaq’s Sustainability Report for 2019.

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