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2019 Atlanta Spencer Stuart Board Index

The seventh Atlanta Spencer Stuart Board Index examines the composition and practices of boards in the Atlanta region. Specifically, we compare the corporate governance practices of Atlanta boards with those of S&P 500 company boards, and consider how governance practices have shifted over time.

This year’s index looks at 48 companies through two lenses — the 18 companies with revenues of $5 billion or more, and the 30 companies with revenues between $1 billion and $5 billion. These 48 boards combine for 450 directors.

Several areas of change for Atlanta boards are worth highlighting in particular:

  • For the first time, every Atlanta board we studied in the index has at least one female director. Half (18 out of 36) of the new independent directors added in 2019 were females, and women now represent 22% of directors, up from 19% a year ago. Atlanta boards now average two female directors.
  • Racial diversity showed mixed results in 2019. The percentage of minorities dropped by one percentage point to 12%, and the distance between Atlanta boards and the top 200 companies of the S&P 500 (19%) widened. However, racial diversity on Atlanta boards is still ahead of levels in 2016 (10%) and 2017 (7%). Six new directors (17%) are minorities, compared to 23% of the S&P 500’s new independent directors.
  • Average director compensation was down among the 48 companies in the index. Some of this can be attributed to changes in the group of companies we analyzed; however, 10 of the 18 companies with revenues greater than $5 billion (and whose average director compensation is much higher) reported lower compensation in 2019. Overall, Atlanta boards’ average director compensation is $233,922.
  • Atlanta boards are increasingly separating their chair and CEO roles, at a rate that is faster than both the region in the past few years and the S&P 500. Today, 60% of Atlanta boards separate the two roles, up from 57% in 2018 and 50% in 2017, and higher than the S&P 500’s 53%. More Atlanta boards also have an independent chair — 42% compared with 37% in 2018. Every Atlanta board now has some form of independent board leadership — either an independent chair or lead/presiding director.