The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and Vista Equity Partners (“Vista”) announce the launch of a new program that seeks to increase diversity among professionals who wish to serve on audit committees of the boards of private and public companies.
The program will provide individuals seeking to serve as first-time board members with 12-months of detailed curriculum tailored to audit committee and board preparation, with a specialized focus on financial literacy and audit committee readiness. The program will identify high-performing diverse executives and equip them with a deep understanding of the responsibilities and oversight role of the board. Participants will be sourced from leading accounting firms and interested individuals can apply to the NACD Accelerate program if they are looking to learn, advance and grow their knowledge and network to increase their exposure to corporate board opportunities.
While board diversity among S&P 500 companies has improved, it remains to be seen whether similar improvement is taking place among all publicly traded companies. Even with the progress this year, People of Color make up only 17.5 percent of all Fortune 500 directors; African American/Blacks count for 8.7 percent, Hispanic/Latinx account for 4.1 percent and Asian/Pacific Islanders make up only 4.6 percent (Source: Deloitte Missing Pieces Report). Recognizing the long-term nature of this work, NACD and Vista indicate the initial goal for this program is to have increased the pipeline of talent with an additional 300 to 500 diverse individuals by the year 2031.
“NACD has been at the forefront of building a diverse, equitable and inclusive boardroom, and we look forward to partnering with Vista to focus specifically on audit professionals,” said Peter R. Gleason, NACD president and CEO. “With this program, executives from a diverse set of backgrounds will have access to our premier director education, including the opportunity to earn their NACD Directorship Certification® credential and access to networking opportunities, creating a new generation of highly-qualified directors.”
“Diversity of thought and experience is essential in today’s world, and a tenet we take very seriously at Vista. We are proud to partner with NACD on this program, which will help to build a steady pipeline of high-performing, diverse board candidates to help bring varied perspectives onto audit committees,” said Bessie Watts, Director, External Board of Directors Program, Vista. “We are committed to preparing a diverse pipeline for companies who will benefit from access to a deeper bench of talent.”
Vista seeks to promotes board diversity within its own portfolio through an independent board program, launched in 2017. Today, the program has a dedicated team and enhanced operations to identify leading independent board members for Vista portfolio companies and accelerate diversity for all boards. Vista has now placed almost 70 board members across its more than 70 portfolio companies, many of whom are from diverse backgrounds. The program also advances board diversity beyond the Vista portfolio to drive impact for the corporate world at large.