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Merck, Coca-Cola and other top CEOs join NYSE’s new council to advance corporate diversity

Scott Gamm

The New York Stock Exchange is taking a big step to advance diversity on corporate boards.

On Tuesday, NYSE parent company Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) launched the NYSE Board Advisory Council, which will hold a series of live networking events to connect prospective board candidates with NYSE-listed companies.

The council has 15 founding members, including Merck (MRK) CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, Coca-Cola (KO) CEO James Quincey, Procter & Gamble (PG) CEO David Taylor, Delta Air Lines (DAL) CEO Ed Bastian and American Water Works (AWK) CEO Susan Story, among others.

“The issue of diversity on boards to me is an issue of financial performance and the sustainability of that performance,” Story said in an interview with Yahoo Finance from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. “If you don’t reflect your communities, if you don’t reflect your customer, I don’t think you stay in business for a long period of time, and that’s important to investors.”

The council’s first networking summit takes place on Tuesday.

“This [council] is an opportunity for us to get to know people,” Story said. “It’s exciting to see how many women and people of color [are participating].”

Duriya Farooqui, a board member of Intercontinental Exchange, who will also lead the council, said less than 5% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women, although progress has been made in increasing corporate board diversity over the past few years.

“While last year more women were added to boards than any other year in history, we still have a big distance to go,” Farooqui said.

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Scott Gamm is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @ScottGamm.

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