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2021 Spencer Stuart Consumer Sector Snapshot

2021 U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index

Boards of consumer companies in the S&P 500 index tend to be younger and more diverse than S&P 500 boards as a whole. In other respects, governance practices and structures of consumer companies — consisting of 94 companies in the S&P 500 consumer staples and consumer discretionary primary sectors — are comparable to other S&P 500 boards.

  • The average age of independent directors on consumer boards is 61.9 years, lower than the 63.0 year average for S&P 500 boards.
  • The youngest average age of a consumer board is 49.5 years, and the oldest is 72.8.
  • Consumer boards average 11.0 directors, compared to 10.8 members on S&P 500 boards overall.
  • Independent directors represent 84% of all directors on consumer boards, compared to 86% for the S&P 500 universe.
  • The average board tenure of independent directors on consumer boards is 7.9 years, just above the S&P 500 average of 7.8 years.
  • The longest-tenured consumer board is 13.8 years.


The diversity of consumer boards outpaces the S&P 500 universe, with directors from underrepresented communities (women, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian men) constituting 45% of directors on consumer boards, compared with 43% of S&P 500 boards and tied with two other sectors (information technology and utilities) as the second-highest percentage of directors from underrepresented communities. Gender diversity of consumer boards is the highest of all primary sectors, with women representing 32% of all consumer board members in 2021, compared with 30% of all S&P 500 directors.

Both the consumer sector and the S&P 500 index fall short of reflecting U.S. demographics, where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 51% of the U.S. population are women and about 42% identify as Hispanic/Latino/a (18.5%), Black/African American (13.4%), Asian (5.9%), American Indian or Alaskan native (1.3%), or multiracial (2.8%).

Just over one-quarter (26%) of consumer companies disclosed director-specific race/ethnicity details just below the 28% average for all S&P 500 companies. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of the sector disclosed a commitment to including directors from underrepresented communities in searches for new directors, matching the S&P 500 as a whole.

Diversity of Consumer Boards

Five consumer boards (5% of sector) have no Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a and Asian directors. In contrast, 37 (8%) S&P 500 boards have no Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/a or Asian directors. Ninety-six percent (96%) of the S&P 500 index have at least two female directors, and two-thirds (72%) of S&P 500 boards have three or more female directors. In contrast, 79% of the consumer boards have three or more women directors. Sixteen S&P 500 boards are composed of at least 50% women, including seven consumer boards, the most of all primary sectors.

New independent director backgrounds

Sixty-one companies — 65% of the sector, the second highest percentage of all S&P 500 primary sectors — have added at least one independent director over the past year. Appointees averaged 56.0 years of age, lower than the 57.5 average for all independent directors joining S&P 500 boards and the lowest average of all sectors. First-time directors represented 38% of independent directors joining consumer boards — slightly higher than the 35% overall average.

Directors from underrepresented communities constituted 69% of the 93 independent directors joining consumer boards over the past year, compared to 72% of independent directors joining S&P 500 boards.

Diversity of Independent Directors Joining Consumer Boards

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of the independent directors joining consumer boards are actively employed, compared to 56% of independent directors joining S&P 500 boards. Compared to the S&P 500 incoming class of independent director, in 2021, consumer boards recruited a relatively high percentage of CEOs, division/subsidiary and functional leaders — and the lowest percentage of financial professionals of all primary sectors.

New Independent Director Functional Backgrounds
2021 Consumer 2021 S&P 500
CEOs 25% 22%
Active 14% 12%
Retired 11% 10%
Chairs / presidents / COOs 4% 4%
Active 3% 2%
Retired 1% 2%
Line / functional leaders 25% 21%
Division / subsidiary leaders 14% 12%
Finance / accounting executives 18% 27%
Financial executives / CFOs / treasurers 9% 13%
Investment managers / investors 6% 8%
Bankers / investment bankers 3% 3%
Public accounting executives 0% 3%
Academics / nonprofit executives 4% 4%
Consultants 1% 1%
Legal  4% 4%
Others 4% 5%

Board leadership

The chair and CEO roles are separated on 69% of consumer boards — higher than the 59% average for the S&P 500 index. Executive chairs are most prevalent on consumer boards: 27%, the highest of all primary sectors, versus 15% for the S&P 500 as a whole. Consumer boards, on average, have a slightly lower percentage of independent board leaders: 36% have independent chairs (compared to 37% of the S&P 500), and 67% have an independent lead director (compared to 70% of the S&P 500).

Board organization and process

Consumer board governance processes and structures generally align with averages for the S&P 500 index.

Board Organization and Process
2021 Consumer 2021 S&P 500
Classified board 10% 10%
Board meetings (avg #) 9.3 9.4
Board committees (avg #) 4 4.2
Audit committee
Size (avg #) 4.4 4.5
Meetings (avg #) 8.1 8.4
Compensation committee
Size (avg #) 4.1 4.3
Meetings (avg #) 6.2 6.2
Nominating / governance committee
Size (avg #) 4.3 4.4
Meetings (avg #) 4.7 4.7
Mandatory retirement 69% 70%
Retirement age (avg) 73.2 73.7

Editor’s Note: The data in this report is taken from the 2021 U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index which is based on our analysis of the most recent proxy reports from the S&P 500. The 2021 edition of the index draws on the latest DEF14A proxy statements from 493 companies filed with the SEC between May 28, 2020, and May 13, 2021.

Data in tables and charts may not total 100% due to rounding.

Consumer Sector Companies

Advance Auto Parts
Altria Group
Aptiv PLC
Archer-Daniels-Midland Company
Best Buy Co.
Booking Holdings
Brown-Forman Corporation
Caesars Entertainment
Campbell Soup Company
Carnival Corporation
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Church & Dwight Co. 
Colgate-Palmolive Company
Conagra Brands
Constellation Brands
Costco Wholesale Corporation
D.R. Horton
Darden Restaurants
Dollar General Corporation
Dollar Tree
Domino’s Pizza
Expedia Group
Ford Motor Company
General Mills
General Motors Company
Genuine Parts Company
Hilton Worldwide Holdings
Hormel Foods Corporation
Kellogg Company
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
L Brands
Lamb Weston Holdings
Las Vegas Sands Corporation
Leggett & Platt 
Lennar Corporation
LKQ Corporation
Lowe’s Companies
Marriott International 
McCormick & Company
McDonald’s Corporation
MGM Resorts International
Mohawk Industries
Molson Coors Brewing Company
Mondelēz International
Monster Beverage Corporation
Newell Brands
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
O’Reilly Automotive
Penn National Gaming
Phillip Morris International
Pool Corporation
PVH Corporation
Ralph Lauren Corporation
Ross Stores
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Starbucks Corporation
Sysco Corporation
Target Corporation
The Clorox Company
The Coca-Cola Company
The Estee Lauder Companies
The Gap
The Hershey Company
The Home Depot
The J.M. Smucker Company
The Kraft Heinz Company
The Kroger Co.
The Procter & Gamble Company
The TJX Companies
Tractor Supply Company
Tyson Foods
Ulta Beauty
Under Armour
V.F. Corporation
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Whirlpool Corporation
Wynn Resorts Limited
Yum! Brands

2021 U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index

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