Facebook adds its first African American board member

Kenneth Chenault at The New York Times 2017 Deal Book Conference on Nov. 9 2017

Kenneth Chenault at The New York Times 2017 Deal Book Conference on Nov. 9 2017

The 66-year-old business executive has been at the helm of American Express as CEO and Chairman since 2001. Seriously? "Years?" It's uncomfortably close to saying Facebook didn't have any non-white board members for 14 years because they couldn't find any - or, slightly more plausibly, the ones they found didn't want the job.

In the blog post announcing the appointment, Zuckerberg said, "I've been trying to recruit Ken for years".

Kenneth Chenault is credited for propelling the American Express to reach record numbers of new customers and to become a market leader in customer service. It's notable because Chenault will be the board's first African American member.

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson has for years been lobbying Fortune 1000 companies, including Facebook, to add people of color to their boards.

Diversity remains a top challenge for Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies that are mostly staffed by white and Asian men.

Companies used to be able to keep those earnings offshore and avoid paying US taxes, but the Republican-backed tax code eliminated that. Three percent of Facebook workers are African American, up from 2%, and 5% of them are Hispanic, up from 4%.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) added American Express Co.

"I'm pleased to see Facebook taking real action to address the issue of diversity within their company", Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) said in a statement. The company did not disclose how much. "We've continued to exert pressure on technology companies to be more diverse and inclusive". He announced in the fall he would be stepping down from this position February 1.

Less than 5 percent of the 200 largest US companies are led by African-Americans, according to a 2016 report from recruitment firm Spencer Stuart, USA Today reported.

He serves on the Boards of IBM, The Procter & Gamble Company, the Harvard Corporation and numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, the Smithsonian Institution's Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. "As a Facebook client, Ken always gave honest feedback and pushed us to do better", Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a post welcoming Chenault.

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