Benchmarking the board diversity of Illinois companies against S&P 500

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recently released a version of their popular Board Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation Report. “A goldmine of data” is what Chris Welch, Speaker of the House in Illinois, called the report that uncovers the board compositions of listed corporations with HQ in Illinois. Using data provided by Denominator, the report also benchmarks the findings against S&P 500.

In 2019, Illinois adopted Public Act 101-0589 which requires public corporations (with principal executive office located in Illinois) to report gender and racial/ethnic composition of their board members. The report from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign summarizes the data found in the 2020 Diversity and Inclusion filings, and now also benchmark the results against S&P 500 data from Denominator.

The legislation and the report have received a lot of attention among politicians and corporate executives and have been the topics of two interesting episodes by ESG Insider: A Podcast by S&P Global. In the podcast, Chris Welch stated: “I think it’s extremely important that you let data drive your decisions.” He believes “we have gone from protest to progress.”

Some of the main insights for the reporting Illinois corporations are:

  • 33% have fewer than two female directors and a total of 11% have zero female directors. In comparison the majority of S&P 500 companies have more than 3 female directors and close to none S&P 500 companies have zero female directors.
  • 28% of companies have zero non-white directors and for the average company, 15% of board members are non-white. In comparison nearly 40% of the population in Illinois are non-white
  • 52% of the companies reported having zero Black or African American board members and for the average company, Black/African Americans comprise about 6% of the board. In comparison, Black/African American directors comprise about 8% of S&P 500’s average board and 14% of the total population of Illinois.
  • 70% of the companies reported having zero Asian or Asian-American board members and for the average company, Asian/Asian-American comprise around 6% of the board. In comparison, Asian/Asian-American directors comprise about 5% of S&P 500’s average board and 6% of the total population of Illinois.
  • The most underrepresented non-white group is the Hispanic or Latino. 83% of companies reported zero Hispanic/Latino board members and whilst Hispanic/Latinos comprise about 16% of the total population of Illinois, only 2% of the average company’s board are Hispanic/Latinos.

At Denominator, we believe DEI data is critical for decision making and transparency. Our data creates measurable accountability and enables performance benchmarking across industries and peers. If you are interested in comparing your organization’s DEI performance, please contact us at for further information.

You can read the report here and listen to the two episodes of ESG Insider: A Podcast by S&P Global with the co-hosts Esther Whieldon and Lindsey H.

  •  Diversity data is lacking; New report seeks to fix that (March 12, 2021)
  • The ‘name and shame’ game: How 2 state laws tackle corporate racial diversity (October 8, 2020)

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