Can Black people make up one-eighth of corporate board members by 2028?

Law firm Perkins Coie announced Wednesday an initiative to increase the number of Black men and women on S&P 500 corporate boards to one in eight by 2028.

The program, dubbed the Black Boardroom Initiative, is backed by Deloitte, Amazon, Microsoft, and Zillow. Twenty-three executives are currently in the program from various industries and professional backgrounds.

Executives who are corporate-board ready will be given training and networking opportunities through a six-month programs. Members of the initiative will be have the chance to meet with current board members, CEOs, and investors.

Black people make up 13% of the population, but 37% of S&P 500 corporations did not have any Black board members in 2019, according to Perkins Coie.

Taking meaningful action on racism and diversity inclusion must start at the top, said Bill Malley, Perkins Coie’s firmwide managing partner.

 “This initiative will help to address this equity imbalance by identifying leading Black executives who are board-ready, preparing them for critical issues that boards are facing today, and establishing a pipeline between program participants and public companies,” said Stewart Landefeld, co-leader of the initiative and a Perkins Coie partner who counsels corporations and boards of directors.

A year after the murder of George Floyd, companies are investing more in diversity and inclusion efforts. In 2021, companies such as Nike, Apple, McDonald’s, and Chipotle Mexican Grill have at least partially tied executive bonuses to gender and racial equity.

Correction, June 4, 2021: A previous version of this article misstated Starbucks’ involvement with the Black Boardroom Initiative.

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