Facebook Appoints First Non-White Board Member, Kenneth I. Chenault

  • Facebook Appoints First Non-White Board Member, Kenneth I. Chenault

Facebook Appoints First Non-White Board Member, Kenneth I. Chenault

"Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades".

Chenault joins current board members Zuckerberg; Marc L. Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz; Erskine B. Bowles, president emeritus, University of North Carolina; Susan D. Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Reed Hastings, board chair and CEO at Netflix; Jan Koum, founder and CEO, WhatsApp; Sheryl K. Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer; and Peter A. Thiel, Founders Fund. Chenault joins a small group of black board members at major Silicon Valley tech companies that includes Ursula Burns at Uber and Debra Lee at Twitter.

Over the years, activists such as Reverend Jesse Jackson have put pressure on Facebook to diversify its board.

Facebook now has eight board members, including Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Whatsapp founder Jan Koum, as well as venture capitalist and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel. Seriously? "Years?" It's uncomfortably close to saying Facebook didn't have any non-white board members for 14 years because they couldn't find any - or, slightly more plausibly, the ones they found didn't want the job.

In the U.S., Facebook has brought aboard more people of color.

Three percent of Facebook workers are African American, up from 2 percent overall. The percentage of African Americans in senior leadership positions at Facebook has also barely changed.

And the actual numbers of African Americans and Hispanics working at Facebook in the USA remain small.

Facebook's lack of diversity has been a sticking point for years.

The company continues to struggle to diversify its workforce, too.

Chenault is one of the nation's most prominent Black corporate leaders.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Chenault, 66, has been with American Express since 1981.

Chenault is also on the boards of IBM and Procter & Gamble, two deeply troubled companies.

Less than 5 percent of the 200 largest US companies are led by African-Americans, according to a 2016 report from recruitment firm Spencer Stuart, USA Today reported. Among Fortune 500 companies, men who are minorities make up 10.6% of board members, while minority women only 3.8%.

The council's CEO, Ronald C. Parker, that Chenault's retirement was bittersweet. Zuckerberg revealed the news of Chenault's resolve to join Facebook Inc's top decision-making team through a post on his official Facebook page on January 18, 2018, disclosing that he has been trying to recruit Chenault for years.