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CEO DATELINE – Black lawmakers question lack of minority executives in corporations, associations

May 19, 2017
By Walt Williams

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The Congressional Black Caucus has asked the board chairmen of four major business organizations to encourage the hiring of more African American executives in both corporations and the associations that represent those companies.

In a May 15 letter, caucus members said they had “grave concerns” about the lack of African Americans on corporate boards and in executive-level positions. They requested a meeting with the board chairmen and CEOs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, Investment Company Institute and Organization for International Investment to discuss the matter.

“Black Americans have just as much business acumen, strategic management capabilities, and small business supply expertise as any other American demographic,” caucus members said. “We strongly encourage your members to have conversations about the items we discuss herein and we encourage the asset managers that invest in the firms run by your members to push firms’ leadership to act on these priorities in their capacity as owners of equity in these firms.”

Caucus members also pointed to what they viewed as the lack of diversity in advocacy organizations. There is growing concern that such groups are less committed to diversity under the Trump administration than they were under former President Barack Obama, they said.

“We have been made aware of an alarming number of dismissals of black policy advocates here in Washington, D.C., in the wake of the 2016 presidential election,” caucus members said. “It appears as if corporate America has decided that the previous diverse administration needed diverse advocates to speak to, but in light of a new set of far less diverse personnel, the motivation to diversify seems to have eroded.”

The Congressional Black Caucus is a bipartisan organization, although most of members are Democrats.

In statements to the Hill, the four groups said they planned to reach out to the caucus to address members’ concerns.