James A. Bell Motivates Black Executives Interested In Corporate Board Service

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JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) hosted The Executive Leadership Council’s 2016 Q2 Corporate Board Initiative (CBI) Panel Discussion and Networking Reception on Tuesday, April 19th at their Madison Avenue offices in New York City. More than 80 ELC members, JPMC executives and invited guests attended the event, titled “Board Governance: The Black Executive Experience featuring James A. Bell.”

The event featured a fireside chat with Bell who serves on the board of directors at JPMC. He shared stories of his personal journey as a black executive to getting on the boards of some of the world’s largest corporations, including the Dow Chemical Company and most recently, Apple, Inc., where he was elected to the board of directors in October 2015.

CNBC Senior Personal Finance Correspondent Sharon Epperson moderated the fireside chat. She engaged Bell in an open and candid discussion sharing his thoughts and unique experiences as a black corporate director. He offered advice and recommendations for how black executives can get on corporate boards today. “Boards are looking for those with meaningful work experience that is applicable to their business,” Bell stated. He added that every offer to join a board is not always a good one and suggested doing your due diligence in researching an organization before deciding to join a company board.

Once you’ve accepted a board opportunity, he says “it is your responsibility to keep yourself relevant so you can contribute to discussions in the boardroom. The worse thing is to have someone of color on a board who doesn’t have a voice.” Bell acknowledged the lack of corporate board diversity today, stating that company boards “should more closely reflect their audience.” He continued, “we get faster results when there is diversity around the table.”

Prior to the panel discussion, ELC member Patricia A. David, Head of Diversity at JPMorgan Chase, welcomed guests and announced the addition of Valerie Rainford as the new Deputy Head of Diversity and Head of JPMC’s new Advancing Black Leaders Strategy. The program is designed to attract and hire more diverse talent at JPMC while retaining, developing and advancing the black talent already within the company.

ELC President & CEO Ronald C. Parker and CBI Chair Billy Dexter of Heidrick & Struggles delivered welcome remarks to kick off the event. ELC member Xavier Williams, EVP of Global Customer Service at AT&T, also provided remarks on behalf of AT&T as a valued sponsor of The ELC’s Corporate Board Initiative.

The panel discussion came to a close with remarks from CBI Chair A. Louis Parker who provided an update on The ELC’s recent board placements. In 2016, 14 ELC members have earned 15 board seats with The ELC securing 85 total corporate board seats since the launch of the Corporate Board Initiative in 2011.

The evening concluded with a post-event networking reception featuring a special performance by The Sphinx Performance Academy. ELC member Dr. William Carson serves on the board of the Sphinx Organization and provided an introduction to the group. Sphinx is a full-scholarship intensive chamber music and solo performance program designed for aspiring Black and Latino string players, ages 12-17.

The ELC’s CBI program is designed to prepare black executives for service on corporate boards. It builds awareness, improves readiness and enhances the visibility of ELC members who are interested in and actively pursuing board service. The New York event is one of several quarterly CBI events set to take place in 2016, including a past event in San Francisco and upcoming events in Washington, DC and Chicago.

(l-R) ELC COO Brickson Diamond; CBI Chair Billy Dexter, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles; ELC member Patricia A. David, Head of Diversity, JPMorgan Chase; Panelist James A. Bell, Board of Directors, JPMorgan Chase; ELC member Valerie Rainford, Deputy Head of Diversity, JPMorgan Chase; Moderator Sharon Epperson, Senior Personal Finance Correspondent, CNBC; CBI Chair A. Louis Parker, Retired Corporate VP, GE; Founder, CFO, COO, Visible Men Academy; and ELC President & CEO Ronald C. Parker

Xavier Williams, EVP, Global Customer Service, AT&T; CBI Sponsor giving welcome remarks as a co-lead sponsor of The ELC’s Corporate Board Initiative

Sharon Epperson moderating the fireside chat with James A. Bell

ELC members and guests enjoying the post-event networking reception

Members of The Sphinx Performance Academy entertaining guests during the networking reception

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