Ex-Xerox CEO Ursula Burns states prejudiced requirements is keeping back board variety

Ex-Xerox CEO Ursula Burns says biased criteria is holding back board diversity

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Former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns informed CNBC on Tuesday that reconsidering requirements can assist business enhance the gender and racial variety of their boards.

In an interview on “Closing Bell,” Burns — the very first Black female to end up being CEO of a Fortune 500 business — stated the concept that there’s a scarcity of certified board prospects who are female, individuals of color or both is “small minded.”

“The specifications are biased, not that people are incapable. Some people are, but this is not what we’re talking about here,” stated Burns, who serves on the boards of Uber and Exxon Mobil.

“They spec’d it in such a way that only 5 people or 10 people could possibly fit the specification, and every one of those guys are boarded up. Some of them are getting too old to serve,” she stated.

For example, Burns stated, the requirement that board members be present or previous CEOs has actually been a barrier to the election of Black service individuals.

“Guess what? There were probably 20 of us in all existence. So, after you run through the 20, you’re not going to get any more, if that’s the criteria,” stated Burns, whose narrative, “Where You Are Is Not Who You Are,” was released Tuesday.

The subject of director variety was thrust into a brighter spotlight in 2015 after the murder of George Floyd stimulated a wave of racial equity demonstrations throughout the world and business promises to resolve racial variations in working with, board structure and the economy writ big.

In 2020, 82.5% of board seats at Fortune 500 business were held by individuals who are white, according to a current report from speaking with company Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity.

Burns has actually stated she’s working to ensure enhancing representation throughout business America sees continual momentum. “The intensity has changed very significantly,” she informed CNBC previously this year. “We’re making this a movement.”

Structural obstacles should be conquered at the same time, Burns stated Tuesday.

“What has happened in corporate America is that the playing field … was defined by white men. The rules of the game were defined by white men. The referees are white men,” she stated. “These white men say, ‘We have nobody who fits this game that I specifically designed for me except for people who look like me,'” she included. “Well, surprise, surprise.”

Burns stated if she is asked by somebody in business America for suggestions of prospective directors who are female, individuals of color or both, “I can give you a list of names if you want them.”

However, she stated, she’d choose to deal with such a demand in a various method.

“I would say to them, ‘You send me your spec, I’ll fix it for you, help you fix it, and then I’ll give you a load of names that you would not believe that would be phenomenal directors.'”

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