Company boards have the opportunity to diversify leadership roles over the coming years, said Ken Taylor, director of executive search platform Director Search.
Taylor estimated that there would be about 45,000 executive searches over the next five years as many directors are expected to retire. This could open the door for companies to add more diverse members to their boards of directors, he said.
“We should do a lot to broaden the topic of diversity and inclusion, and it starts with equality and equal opportunities,” Taylor said Monday in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer about Mad Money. “There is no longer an excuse for someone who says, ‘Geez, we didn’t know anything about this person'” when recruiting board members.
Of the 272,000 directors who serve tens of thousands of companies around the world, more than 31,000 seats are occupied by people aged 70 and over, Taylor said. About 43,000 of those seats are occupied by women, he added.
In the US, white people hold 84% of the Fortune 500 board memberships, while they make up 60% of the population, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
Taylor said this could be due in part to the fact that company leaders often search for board seats within their own network, which can result in homogeneous management. Many directors also sit on multiple boards, he added.
However, Taylor noted that Director Search can help make corporate boards more diverse.
“We’re shifting the conversation about board composition from who we know to who we should know,” said Taylor.