kenneth chenault

Facebook (Finally) Puts a Black Person on its Board of Directors

kenneth chenault

This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.

If you’ve read any of my writing, you will know that I am pro-diversity and inclusion.  I think that differences are what make things great about our society and culture.  Which is why I’m happy to hear that Facebook has finally put someone of color on their board of directors.  Don’t get me wrong, when I say happy, I am.  But at the same time, it’s 2018.  I feel like I have to keep repeating that to myself and others.  It’s 2018, so why isn’t this just the norm?  Why do we have to treat it like it’s this great accomplishment? Please don’t get me wrong.  This is an incredible achievement. But let’s take that out of the equation for a moment and talk about Facebook.

Kenneth I. Chenault, CEO of American Express will join the Facebook board of directors.  In a blog post celebrating this news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised Chenault’s decades-long career with American Express and his expertise in brand building.  When Chenault officially joins the board on February 5th, he will be the company’s first non-white board member. Chenault stated, “I’m delighted to join the board and look forward to working with Mark and the other directors as Facebook continues to build communities that help bring people closer to friends, family and the world around them.”

kenneth chenault

This is all very interesting though.  While I’m not saying that there is a diversity problem at Facebook.  I do think there is a general problem with diversity in America.  Confirmation of this position comes four months after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg assured members of the Congressional Black Caucus that the company would hire a black board member.  This is my problem.  Facebook has to tell members of the Congressional Black Caucus that the company would hire a person of color.  Which takes me back to my original point.  Why are things still so segregated in 2018?  Maybe I shouldn’t use that word, but that’s what this is, right?

Not to mention, in my opinion, this is a great example of affirmative action.  Again, I think this move is great and I think Chenault will do an amazing job.  But it’s sad to me that Facebook has to say – hey look, we’ve got a person of color on our board of directors.  That said, Zuckerberg claims that he’s been trying to recruit Chenault for years, and maybe he has.  But should there be a bigger drive to bring in great talent?

Maybe I’m making too big of a deal about this, but it feels like this is a PR move on Facebook’s part.  I hate saying this because I feel like it undermines the fact that more people of color are getting into these positions.  But maybe it has to be said?  Maybe its time that we stop praising organizations for the way that they tack on diversity and inclusion, and really call them out on what they’re doing.  Which is highlighting the fact that they’ve hired someone of color, but not making diversity and inclusion as part of their overall recruitment strategy.