University of Pittsburgh
December 20, 2001

Pitt Study Examines the Representation of African Americans and Women on Pittsburgh-Area Boards While some improvement noted in 2001, numbers still appear low

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PITTSBURGH—While the presence of African Americans and women on the boards of economic development organizations (EDOs) in the Pittsburgh region has increased during the past two years, the numbers still remain low relative to comparable shares of the local working-age population, according to a recent report by the University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) at the University of Pittsburgh. The study also found that the representation of African Americans and women on the boards of major employers in the area also is low when using the same benchmark.

Titled "African American and Women Board Members in the Pittsburgh Region," the report was developed and issued by Ralph L. Bangs, UCSUR research associate, and Christine M. Anthou, research assistant.

The report is available at http://www.ucsur.pitt.edu/publications.htm, UCSUR's Web site. Funded by the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the report was developed for the Building One Economy Committee (BOEC) of the Working Together Consortium and is a follow-up to a similar report released in 1999. BOEC was initiated by the Allegheny Conference in November 1994 in response to economic disparities between African American and white communities in the Pittsburgh region.

The report's data on the representation of African American and women board members were collected from 42 general and three African American EDOs in the region during March 2001 and, for the first time, from 21 major employers in the region during February 2001. The 2001 data for EDOs also were compared to data from the 1999 UCSUR study.

A sample of the findings shows:

• African Americans in March 2001 held 87 (10.2 percent) of the 50 board positions for the 45 major EDOs in the Pittsburgh region. African Americans held 61.3 percent of the board positions for the three African American EDOs and 8.3 percent of the board position for the 42 other, or general, EDOs. Almost one-third (13) of the 42 general EDOs had no African American board members in March 2001. Fifteen of the 41 general EDOs studied in 1999 had no African American members.

• African American representation increased from 52 (6.4 percent) to 63 (8 percent) on the boards of the 37 general EDOs that were studied in both March 1999 and

March 2001. African American representation declined from 32 (80 percent) in 1999 to 19 (61.3 percent) in 2001 on the boards of the three African American EDOs.

• Of the 37 general EDOs that were studied in both March 1999 and March 2001, 13 (35.1 percent) had no African American board members in 1999 and 11 (29.7 percent) had none in 2001.

• Women in March 2001 held 147 (17.3 percent) of the 850 board positions for the 45 major EDOs in the Pittsburgh region. Women held 32.3 percent of the board positions for the three African American EDOs. Nine of the 41 general EDOs studied in March 1999 had no women board members, while six of the

42 studied in March 2001 had none.

• Female representation changed from 137 (16.7 percent) to 134 (16.9 percent) on the boards of the 37 general EDOs that were studied in both March 1999 and March 2001. Although female representation on the boards of the three African American EDOs equaled 10 in both 1999 and 2001, the share of total members increased from 25 percent in 1999 to 32.3 percent in 2001 because there were fewer total board members in the latter year.

• Of the 37 general EDOs studied in both March 1999 and March 2001, seven

(18.9 percent) had no women board members in 1999 and four (10.8 percent) had none in 2001.

• African Americans held 24 (6.4 percent) of the 374 board positions for the

21 major employers in the Pittsburgh region studied in February 2001, but about half (10) of the 21 boards of the major employers had no African American members.

• Women held 62 (16.6 percent) of the 374 board positions for the 21 major employers in the Pittsburgh region studied in February 2001, but about one-fourth (five) off the 21 boards of the major employers had no women members.

The report identified major barriers to board diversity. These include limited networks for minorities and women who potentially are qualified for, and interested in, board membership; and restrictive recruitment and selection criteria that narrow the pool of candidates to past and present senior executives of other organizations, such as CEOs, vice presidents, and board chairs, who are not as likely to be women or members of underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.

The report recommended that organizations looking to increase numbers of African American and women board members should undertake such initiatives as constantly renewing boards; preparing profiles of current board members and identifying diversity "gaps," goals, and progress; broadening networks used to identify qualified board candidates; using minority directories, such as Pittsburgh's African American Leadership Directory, to identify potential candidates; expanding board member recruitment and selection criteria; considering whether minority board members serve on significant committees within the board; and tracking diversity throughout all ranks of organizations.