The newest board members at Fortune 100 companies are surprisingly young, at least by director standards.
More than half of the directors who joined these companies’ boards last year were less than 60 years old, according to an analysis by Ernst & Young LLP. It’s the second year in a row that many incoming directors have been that young.
Audiences inside and outside the consulting firm were “shocked” to find out how many new directors were on the younger side the year before, Kellie Huennekens, said associate director of EY’s Center for Board Matters. The latest research, released May 9, surprised her, too.
Most of 2017’s younger directors are between ages 50 and 59. Less than one-third of the younger directors are under age 50.
“It sounds really young,” Huennekens said, especially considering that the average director sitting on a board is 63 years old. The average age of entering directors, which EY calls the class of 2017, was 57. The average age of exiting directors was 68.
Corporate boards are adding younger, more diverse, and tech-savvy members as they look beyond the traditional candidate pool of CEOs, according to a separate study by recruiter Spencer Stuart.
Boards are now more open to considering candidates with different backgrounds, such as experts in science and technology, Huennekens said. “Boards want to make sure that their composition reflects the right mix of skills and perspectives that will enable them to navigate disruptive changes” in areas such as technology and the workforce, she told Bloomberg Law.
Younger directors still represent a small portion of board members. GenXers, millennials, and other generations born after the Baby Boom take up only 6 percent of all seats on S&P 500 companies’ boards, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP found.