Women and minorities continue to advance at glacial pace within corporate America. While women constitute 85% of purchasing power and make up nearly half the U.S. workforce, they still represent only 15% of Fortune 500 director positions, a statistic that has remained essentially flat over the past few years.
A growing number of companies are realizing the benefits that diversity can bring to bear in the boardroom; however companies such as Urban Outfitters have yet to get the message. Unlike its five main competitors: The Gap, Limited Brands, Nordstrom, Ross Stores, and Abercrombie and Fitch- all of which have at least one woman and/or minority on their board of directors, Urban Outfitters has NONE. Despite the fact that, two of Urban Outfitter's major brands: Anthropologie and Free People- target their merchandise ONLY to women, the company has opposed investor efforts aimed at increasing diversity. Urban Outfitters’ Board gives no indication on how it plans to move from a Board that has NO women and NO minorities to a Board that is more reflective of its consumers, shareholders, and employees.
Sustainable and responsible investment firms such as Calvert Investments, where I work, have been advocating for board diversity because we believe it makes good business sense. Companies are starting to hear from their shareholders on why diversity is important, but they need to hear from their customers too!
Take action NOW and tell the Board of Urban Outfitters that consumers and concerned citizens increasingly view an all-white, all-male board negatively and believe that diversity is both a social justice and bottom line issue.