Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member

Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member

Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member

Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of American Express, has joined Facebook's all white, mostly-male board of directors as the social media giant works to fix its tarnished image and battered brand.

It only took 14 years, but Facebook has finally made good on a promise Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg made to Congressional Black Congress members to hire a black board member.

Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO, American Express, and Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group, discuss the importance of supporting USA small businesses with an audience of local entrepreneurs and business owners at the Millenium Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, in this June 10, 2015 photo.

"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", Chenault said in the post.

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"Ken also has a sense of social mission and integrity I admire and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades".

"I've been trying to recruit Ken for years". After a 17-year tenure, he retires from American Express on February 1, and will become Facebook's newest director four days later.

Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson has for years been lobbying Fortune 1000 companies, including Facebook, to add people of color to their boards.

Facebook's current board consists of eight members including Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Whatsapp founder Jan Koum, as well as venture capitalist and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel. His role at Facebook will become effective four days later. Facebook's latest diversity report from August barely moved the needle: It increased its Hispanic and Black workforce by 1% each to 5% and 3%, respectively. "I'm pleased to see Facebook taking real action to address the issue of diversity within their company", said Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL). "We've continued to exert pressure on technology companies to be more diverse and inclusive". He's on multiple boards, including IBM, Procter & Gamble and the Smithsonian's Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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Also in a Facebook post, Sandberg said AmEx thrived under his leadership, and that as a Facebook client, Chenault was always honest.

"While we are excited about his success, we are also alarmed and disappointed that we have lost another iconic leader of a Fortune 500 company who is a black CEO", he said.

Minorities and women are underrepresented on Fortune 500 Boards: Almost 70% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies are held by white men, according to a study from the Alliance for Board Diversity.

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