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Report: Companies With Diverse Boards Performed Better Through Pandemic

A new analysis of the S&P 500’s most recent publicly available data shows that companies with diverse boards out-performed companies with non-diverse boards through the pandemic-induced volatility of 2020. BoardReady – a nonprofit that aims to increase board diversity through data-driven solutions – released a report today demonstrating strong correlations between diverse boards and company performance during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-generation event impacting every industry and sector, offering a unique opportunity to measure which companies were able to withstand the economic downturn and which were less successful. BoardReady’s findings make clear what board diversity advocates and governance best practices have known for years: Diverse boards perform better across the board,” said Deanna Oppenheimer, Founder of BoardReady, Chair of Hargreaves Lansdown, and member of the Board of Directors at Thompson Reuters, with decades of additional public and private board experience.

As pandemic restrictions wind down and corporations begin adapting to a new business environment, performance data from 2020 can help companies make themselves more resilient and prepared for long-term success.

Among its findings, the report – which analyzed companies based on their directors’ gender, race, and age balance – found that during a difficult pandemic year:

  • Companies with more than 30% of board seats held by women out-performed their less gender-diverse counterparts in 11 of the top 15 S&P 500 sectors.
  • Companies with directors whose ages spanned more than 30 years grew 4.6 percent, while all other cohorts saw their revenues decline.
  • Companies with more than 30 percent of board seats occupied by non-white directors saw year-over-year 2020 revenue grow by 4.0 percent, versus a 2.8 percent drop for companies that had less than 20 percent of their board seats occupied by non-white directors.

“It’s striking that so many aspects of diversity correlated with better performance,” said the report’s lead researcher, Rajalakshmi Subramanian. “No matter whether you’re looking at racial diversity, gender diversity, or diversity in age, companies with a broader range of perspectives at the board table did better.”


The report looked at the performance of S&P 500 companies for the calendar years 2018, 2019 and 2020, based on data that BoardReady collected from publicly available data sources. All 500 S&P companies that reported full-year 2020 results as of May 31, 2021, were included in the analysis.

Using the year-over-year revenue growth rate as a yardstick, the report sought to isolate the impact that the pandemic had on the performance of companies. We looked at whether revenue-growth rates rose, dropped or held steady during the pandemic year 2020, when compared to the calendar year 2019.

About BoardReady

At BoardReady, we view diversity as not just a matter of fairness but as both a societal and a fiscal responsibility. We seek to transform organizations and drive performance through equitable boards. Our proprietary platform, the Board Ready Index (BRI), is a benchmark that helps companies visualize their board's diversity, compare it against their peers', and map their progress toward their own board diversity aspirations. The index is calculated based on the gender and racial diversity on boards along with the median age, age span and tenure of directors.