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List Highlights Mass. Companies With Notable Diversity On Their Corporate Boards

When it comes to diversity on corporate boards, there are some Boston-area companies that stand out from the rest.

A new list created after a survey of more than 50 Massachusetts-based companies was released Wednesday highlighting 15 companies with the most racial and gender diversity on their corporate boards. These companies have boards where at least half the members are women and minorities.

The list is the brainchild of Colette Phillips, who runs Colette Phillips Communications and is the founder of Get Konnected!, a major professional networking event series. Phillips said having diversity on corporate boards is crucial for businesses to operate in an increasingly diverse marketplace. The people who sit on boards are the ones guiding the direction of these major companies.

"This is not about political correctness. This is about smart business," Phillips said. "It's about understanding that what matters most is the color green. And women and people of color are increasingly becoming the significant growth markets and demographics in this country. So it's just common sense — you are leaving money on the table if you are not thinking about how to engage the market."

Phillips said, in addition to the survey, her organization also compiled its "GK15" list by analyzing publicly available corporate board rosters. The companies on the list represent a variety of industries, including tech, life sciences, retail and financial services. They include big names like GE, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, TJX Companies and Staples.

Avid Technology, a tech and multimedia company, had the highest percentage of diversity on its board. Six of the Burlington-based company's board of eight members — or 75 percent — are women or minorities.

"As a truly global company with customers and employees around the world, we're proud to have a board that reflects our diverse business," Avid President Jeff Rosica said in a statement.

"This is not about political correctness. This is about smart business. ..."

Colette Phillips

Some companies say diversity is important in developing better products. Juniper Pharmaceuticals said diversity helps in the health care business. The Boston-based company's eight-person board has five members who are women or minorities — over 60 percent — according to the "GK15" list.

"We're a women's health therapeutics company, so having women in positions on our board, in our leadership and throughout the company, helps us to better understand the people whose lives we aim to improve through therapeutics we're developing," said Juniper Pharmaceuticals spokeswoman Amy Raskopf.

But that diversity hasn't always been there, Raskopf said. She said early in her 17-year career at the company there were no women in executive positions and few minorities, but that changed significantly as the company grew and later expanded into the United Kingdom.

Nationally, efforts to diversify America's corporate boards have lagged. About 31 percent of boardroom seats at Fortune 500 companies are held by women and minorities, according to a 2016 study by Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity, a leadership group. Meanwhile, many studies show that diverse companies perform better, have greater financial returns and make smarter decisions.

The "GK15" list follows Get Konnected's efforts last year to highlight Boston's most influential minority leaders.

You can see the full "GK15" list here.

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Digital Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a digital reporter, covering a range of news. She also covers tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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