The latest memo (October 30, 2015) from Howard Sherman, Executive Director of MSCI ESG Research Inc., is a welcome update from MSCI regarding their Diverse Director DataSource, MSCI’s database of women and minority board of director candidates. http://www.gmi3d.com/home
Mr. Sherman begins by saying that “As you know, the issue of board diversity continues to attract investor and company attention.” That’s like saying, shareholder activism is on the rise. Or, we read a lot in the media about Black Lives Matter.
The 3D database issued a press release announcing they were in business July 19, 2012, starting with 400 profiles in place and another 300 profiles in the queue. That’s the last data we’ve heard from Mr. Sherman and his folk.
"Diverse Director DataSource (3D) Opens for Business"
A bit earlier, on October 4, 2011, I posted an entry on the 3D (Diversity Director DataSource) blog which challenged us all to begin to put performance metrics behind our efforts to increase the numbers of diverse candidates actually sitting on corporate boards of directors.
"To Ensure That We Succeed"
I challenged the leaders of the then-GMI 3D Registry in three specific ways:
- How would you know if your 3D Registry were succeeding?
2. Would another measure of success be based on who is using the 3D Registry?
Would success be defined by the number of boards that inquired of the Registry per month? Or would it matter if board executive search professionals accessed the Registry on a regular basis?
3. What would the leaders at the 3D Registry offer by way of metrics to measure their own success?
Is the 3D Registry an innovation with creative talent at the helm or is this just another fly by night database that sits on the electronic shelf rather than the physical shelf?
We have on October 30, 2015 – four years later – an UPdate that tells us nothing with regard to the hoped-for metrics above. Instead, we get more of the same ol’ same ol’:
- MSCI ESG Research teams “made an effort” to include the 3D in their presentations “when board diversity was on the agenda.”
- They gave “background briefings” to reporters.
- They referenced the 3D in the MSCI ESG Research’s 2014 Women on Boards survey. (A search of the report revealed no references whatsoever in the text, located at https://www.msci.com/resources/research/articles/2014/Executive_Summary-2014_Survey_of_Women_on_Boards.pdf)
- They “engaged” with other board diversity activist organizations.
- In the summer of 2015, they mailed a communication to their 23,000 contact list to tell them how they might use the 3D Registry.
- They “set up a number of logins for firms and individuals” to search the 3D Registry.
- In 2014, CalPERS/CalSTRS wrote to 130 of the largest California headquartered-firms with ZERO women directors; over 30% responded; at total of 27 appointed at least one woman to their board. (it is not clear if these 27 were companies appointing their FIRST woman to their board.)
The people at MSCI don’t seem to be able to distinguish efforts from results. Even the 2014 Women on Boards survey is a mish-mash of global economy comparisons that tells us little about whether progress is occurring or not.
It reminds me of the people who keep trying to sell me t-shirts “to raise awareness” about an issue. I’m perfectly AWARE. But, so far, I am not impressed by any of the databases that pretend to be able to actually advance the specific number of diversity candidates on boards.
Tell me how many diversity candidates are now in the Registry? How many were added each year since we started playing this game? How many candidates have become disenchanted and left the Registry each year? How many companies have used the Registry to search and how many executive search inquiries have been posted on the Registry monthly? How many of these talented candidates have actually been placed on a company board of directors?
Why has it taken you this long to even UPDATE the marketplace?