People

TheBoardlist will match companies with all people of color seeking board seats, too

As tech companies scramble to improve diversity, the platform that previously sought female board candidates is now trying to close the racial gap on boards, too.

TheBoardlist will match companies with all people of color seeking board seats, too

TheBoardlist's founder and chair Sukhinder Singh Cassidy said the shift is a direct response to a spike in demand for board members of color.

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

As corporations across the country commit to diversifying their ranks, theBoardlist, which helps companies find female board members, is committing to diversify its repository of talent too.

The company is now opening its online platform to all people of color, regardless of gender, hoping to help businesses address racial inequities on their boards of directors. The shift, says founder and chair Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, is a direct response to the calls for racial justice that have followed the killing of George Floyd by police. But it's also a response to what Singh Cassidy said has been a surge in demand from companies seeking more representation of people of color on their boards recently. In the last two months, 90% of searches on the Boardlist have been for women of color.

"I think it's very fair to say the events of the last six, and even three, months have driven the issue of racial inequity and racial diversity, its opposite, to the forefront," Singh Cassidy said.

TheBoardlist initially set out to correct the gender imbalance on boards in corporate America, where white men hold about 66% of seats and 91% of chairmanships on the Fortune 500. Data on the tech industry specifically is harder to come by, but one 2019 survey of tech startups found that 40 percent of respondents had no women on their boards.

In recent years, there's been a surge in legislation requiring boards to include at least one female director. California passed a law to that effect in 2018, and several other states have since introduced similar bills. But the racial imbalance on boards is even more stark, with people of color of all genders holding only about 16% of board seats on the Fortune 500.

And yet, there are signs that this moment in history is poised to change that. In a July survey of 100 board executives conducted by theBoardlist, 74% of respondents said they believed that it should be mandatory for boards to be inclusive of people of color. Some are staking their own board seats on that belief. In June, shortly after protests began in the wake of Floyd's death Reddit co-founder and CEO Alexis Ohanian stepped down from the company's board, asking to be replaced by a Black candidate.

"I'm saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: 'What did you do?'" Ohanian, who is married to tennis champion Serena Williams, wrote in a tweet. Days later, Reddit announced Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel as Ohanian's replacement.

TheBoardlist operates through a network of individual endorsers, CEOs and board members who recommend potential candidates. It doesn't require those people to report the candidates' race, so theBoardlists' data on its own current pipeline of talent is limited. But Singh Cassidy said she estimates about 20% of its candidates are currently people of color.

Now, she expects that figure to grow as the network opens up to all people of color and as theBoardlist itself seeks out partnerships with organizations that will have a more diverse network of talent to recommend. She said the goal is to grow the supply of talent to a point where "no one can argue there aren't enough great candidates."

Fintech

Election markets are far from a sure bet

Kalshi has big-name backing for its plan to offer futures contracts tied to election results. Will that win over a long-skeptical regulator?

Whether Kalshi’s election contracts could be considered gaming or whether they serve a true risk-hedging purpose is one of the top questions the CFTC is weighing in its review.

Photo illustration: Getty Images; Protocol

Crypto isn’t the only emerging issue on the CFTC’s plate. The futures regulator is also weighing a fintech sector that has similarly tricky political implications: election bets.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has set Oct. 28 as a date by which it hopes to decide whether the New York-based startup Kalshi can offer a form of wagering up to $25,000 on which party will control the House of Representatives and Senate after the midterms. PredictIt, another online market for election trading, has also sued the regulator over its decision to cancel a no-action letter.

Keep Reading Show less
Ryan Deffenbaugh
Ryan Deffenbaugh is a reporter at Protocol focused on fintech. Before joining Protocol, he reported on New York's technology industry for Crain's New York Business. He is based in New York and can be reached at rdeffenbaugh@protocol.com.
Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Enterprise

The Uber verdict shows why mandatory disclosure isn't such a bad idea

The conviction of Uber's former chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, seems likely to change some minds in the debate over proposed cyber incident reporting regulations.

Executives and boards will now be "a whole lot less likely to cover things up," said one information security veteran.

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If nothing else, the guilty verdict delivered Wednesday in a case involving Uber's former security head will have this effect on how breaches are handled in the future: Executives and boards, according to information security veteran Michael Hamilton, will be "a whole lot less likely to cover things up."

Following the conviction of former Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan, "we likely will get better voluntary reporting" of cyber incidents, said Hamilton, formerly the chief information security officer of the City of Seattle, and currently the founder and CISO at cybersecurity vendor Critical Insight.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@protocol.com.

Climate

Delta and MIT are running flight tests to fix contrails

The research team and airline are running flight tests to determine if it’s possible to avoid the climate-warming effects of contrails.

Delta and MIT just announced a partnership to test how to mitigate persistent contrails.

Photo: Gabriela Natiello/Unsplash

Contrails could be responsible for up to 2% of all global warming, and yet how they’re formed and how to mitigate them is barely understood by major airlines.

That may be changing.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol covering climate. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.

Entertainment

Inside Amazon’s free video strategy

Amazon has been doubling down on original content for Freevee, its ad-supported video service, which has seen a lot of growth thanks to a deep integration with other Amazon properties.

Freevee’s investment into original programming like 'Bosch: Legacy' has increased by 70%.

Photo: Tyler Golden/Amazon Freevee

Amazon’s streaming efforts have long been all about Prime Video. So the company caught pundits by surprise when, in early 2019, it launched a stand-alone ad-supported streaming service called IMDb Freedive, with Techcrunch calling the move “a bit odd.”

Nearly four years and two rebrandings later, Amazon’s ad-supported video efforts appear to be flourishing. Viewership of the service grew by 138% from 2020 to 2021, according to Amazon. The company declined to share any updated performance data on the service, which is now called Freevee, but a spokesperson told Protocol the performance of originals in particular “exceeded expectations,” leading Amazon to increase investments into original content by 70% year-over-year.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Latest Stories
Bulletins