Boards of communication services companies in the S&P 500 — a group of 22 companies — tend to be younger and less tenured than S&P 500 boards.
- The average age of independent directors on communication services boards is 60.6, significantly lower than the S&P 500 average of 63.0 and the lowest of all S&P 500 primary sectors.
- The youngest average age of a communication services board is 51.3 years and the oldest is 69.4.
- Communication services boards average 10.4 members, slightly lower than the 10.7 director average for S&P 500 company boards.
- Independent directors represent 80% of all directors on communication services boards, significantly lower than the 85% average for the S&P 500 universe and the lowest of all S&P 500 primary sectors.
- The average tenure of independent directors on communication services boards is 7.2 years, below the S&P 500 average of 7.9 years and the second lowest of all S&P 500 primary sectors.
- The longest-tenured communication services board average is 12.4 years.
Women represent 28% of all communication services directors in 2020, equal to the 28% average of the S&P 500.
Every S&P 500 company has at least one female director. Ninety-five percent (95%) of the S&P 500 index have at least two female directors and 67% have three or more women, compared with 82% and 50%, respectively, among communications services boards.
Representation of Women Directors on Communication Services Boards
When it comes to race/ethnic diversity of the boardroom, 25% of the directors of the 12 communication services companies in the top 200 companies are minorities (defined as Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx and Asian), higher than the 20% average for the S&P 500 index and the highest percentage of all primary sectors in the top 200. The diversity breakdown of communication services boards varies from the S&P 500: 16% Black/African American (compared to 10% of S&P 500 directors); 4% Hispanic/Latinx (compared to 4% S&P 500); and 5% Asian (compared to 5% S&P 500). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 40% of the U.S. population is estimated to be a minority, including 18.5% Hispanic/Latinx, 13.4% Black/African American, 5.9% Asian.
New independent director backgrounds
Twelve communication services companies — 55% of the surveyed group — added at least one director over the past year. Appointees averaged 56.6 years of age, younger than the 57.8 average for all independent directors joining S&P 500 boards in 2020. First-time directors represented 15% of directors joining communication services boards — significantly lower than the 28% overall average for the S&P 500 and the second lowest of all S&P primary sectors.
Diverse directors comprised 55% of the 20 directors joining communication services boards over the past year; 45% are women and 10% are minority men. In comparison, 59% of directors joining the S&P 500 index are diverse, including 47% women and 12% minority men.
Compared to the S&P 500 incoming class, where 49% are actively employed, 60% of the directors joining communication boards are actively employed, the highest percentage of all S&P primary sectors. Another difference is the backgrounds of the incoming class, with communication services boards appointing the lowest percentage of CEOs of all S&P 500 primary sectors and the highest percentage of directors with chair/president/COO experience.
Seventy percent (70%) of independent directors joining communication services boards over the past year have the following backgrounds: active or retired financial executives (30%); chairs/presidents/COOs (15%); line and functional leaders (15%); and CEOs (10%).
|2020 Communication Services||2020 S&P 500|
|Chairs / presidents / COOs||15%||6%|
|Line and functional leaders||15%||16%|
|Division / subsidiary presidents||5%||7%|
|Finance / accounting executives||30%||27%|
|Financial executives / CFOs / treasurers||10%||14%|
|Investment managers / investors||20%||8%|
|Bankers / investment bankers||0%||4%|
|Public accounting executives||9%||1%|
|Academics / nonprofit executives||5%||3%|
|Government / military||10%||5%|
Just over half (55%) of the communication services companies in the S&P 500 index separate the chair and CEO roles, equal to the 55% average for the S&P 500 index. Independent chairs are in place at only 18% of communication services companies, significantly below the 34% of the S&P 500 index and the lowest of all S&P 500 primary sectors. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of all communication services companies have an independent lead or presiding director, higher than the 73% average of the S&P 500.
Board organization and process
As detailed below, 14% of communication services companies have staggered, three-year terms for directors, the second highest percentage of all S&P 500 primary sectors. In contrast, 10% of S&P 500 companies have classified boards. While 70% of S&P 500 boards have adopted mandatory retirement policies, only 36% of communication services boards have adopted age limits for directors, the lowest percentage of all S&P 500 primary sectors.
|2020 Communication Services||2020 S&P 500|
|Board meetings (avg #)||8.6||7.9|
|Board committees (avg #)||3.9||4.2|
|Size (avg #)||3.8||4.4|
|Meetings (avg #)||7.5||8.2|
|Size (avg #)||3.9||4.3|
|Meetings (avg #)||6.3||5.9|
|Nominating / governance committee|
|Size (avg #)||3.7||4.4|
|Meetings (avg #)||4.4||4.5|
|Retirement age (avg)||73||73.6|
Editor's note: Data in tables and charts may not total 100% due to rounding.
Communication Services Sector Companies
DISH Network Corporation
Live Nation Entertainment
Take-Two Interactive Software
The Interpublic Group of Companies
The Walt Disney Company