Support of Boardroom Diversity Effort is Important Step in Influential Business Group’s Larger Objective to Achieve Greater Racial Equity Throughout the Workforce
SAN JOSE, CA – August 25, 2020 – The Silicon Valley Leadership Group today announced its support for Assembly Bill 979 (Holden), requiring that public companies with executive offices in the state appoint board members from underrepresented communities.
“It’s a new day in Silicon Valley,” said Ahmad Thomas, CEO of the Leadership Group, one of the first, and most prominent business organizations to get behind the legislation.
“We recognize the need for increased diversity to stay economically competitive, but even more importantly: it’s the right thing to do,” said Thomas. “Our member companies and executives stand firmly on the side of progress. Real change needs to happen now. And, bringing more diverse voices to the boardroom will help facilitate opportunities for underrepresented communities to secure greater and more visible representation within corporations.”
Thomas, who took the helm of the Leadership Group on August 10 of this year, is the group’s fourth leader since its founding in 1977 and its first Black CEO. Thomas’s vision emphasizes catalyzing the most effective racial justice and equity platform in the nation to bring more diversity to Silicon Valley at every level of the workforce through to the C-suites, and the corporate boardrooms.
The Leadership Group acknowledges that its membership, many of which are shareholder-controlled public companies, face practical challenges in making significant changes to Board makeup in such a short time. The organization looks forward to partnering with all stakeholders and the opportunity it presents for collaboration around implementation; principally, to both engender more diverse corporate board membership as well as more effective oversight for shareholders. [Read about AB 979 here]
Stephen Milligan, board chair of the Leadership Group, agreed that this is an opportunity for partnership, and reflective of the Leadership Group’s mission.
“Over the summer, our members met to have important conversations about racial justice, and what we could do to ensure that diversity and inclusion are a major priority for our organization,” said Milligan.
Jed York, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, will take over the board chairmanship next month. He is enthusiastic about the future work plan the Leadership Group is developing to promote diversity and racial justice initiatives.
“These are fundamental issues that corporations are facing, and we acknowledge that this is a first step in a broader conversation to address racial inequity,” York said, lending his support for AB 979.
Several studies support a correlation between increased diversity, both racial and gender, and increased innovation and financial performance. Standing with AB 979 is just the beginning for the Leadership Group, which is expected to reveal a more comprehensive strategy on achieving racial equity throughout the workforce later this year.
About the Silicon Valley Leadership Group:
The Leadership Group, founded in 1978 by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard, represents more than 340 of Silicon Valley’s most respected employers on issues and campaigns that affect the economic health and quality of life in Silicon Valley, including education, energy, environment, equity, health, housing, tax policies, tech and innovation and transportation. Leadership Group members collectively provide nearly one of every three private sector jobs in Silicon Valley. For more information, visit svlg.org.