Facebook's Board of Directors Diversifies with Appointment of Peggy Alford

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media giant has nominated Peggy Alford to join its Board of Directors. Alford will be the first Black woman and second African American person to join the board. “Peggy is a thoughtful leader across multiple disciplines — from business management to finance operations and product development,” Zuckerberg said in a statement posted on Facebook. “I’ve learned a lot working with her at CZI and I look forward to how she will help us address the opportunities and challenges facing our company.”

Alford is the senior vice president of core markets at PayPal, a company she left in 2017 to join the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s charitable foundation, as chief financial officer and head of operations. She rejoined PayPal in March and now oversees the company’s markets in North America, the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Australia, according to her LinkedIn page.

“What excites me about the opportunity to join Facebook’s board is the company’s drive and desire to face hard issues head-on while continuing to improve on the amazing connection experiences they have built over the years,” Alford said in a statement sent to The North Star.

She continued, “I look forward to working with Mark and the other directors as the company builds new and inspiring ways to help people connect and build community.”

During a contentious meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2017, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg promised that the company would add a Black member to its all-white board of directors following repeated calls to diversify its board and its staff, The New York Times reported. Facebook nominated former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, a Black man, to its board in 2018.

Facebook also announced that Erskine Bowles, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, and Reed Hastings, chairman and CEO of Netflix, would not be nominated for re-election. Bowles and Hastings have served on Facebook’s board of directors since 2011.

In his statement, Zuckerberg called Hastings and Bowles two of the “wisest people I have had the opportunity to work with.” He said he was grateful for what the two had done to advance the company’s mission “and for all they’ve taught me over the past eight years.”

Alford’s nomination would place Facebook on the path to complying with a new law in California that requires boardrooms with six or more members to have at least three female directors. According to USA Today, there are two female members on Facebook’s board: Sandberg and Susan D. Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The new law means that 684 women will need to be added to the boards of publicly traded companies in the US, Annalisa Barrett, a clinical professor of finance at the University of San Diego’s School of Business told The Los Angeles Times. Companies that fail to have at least three female board members by July 2021 would face a $100,000 fine for a first violation and a $300,000 fine for subsequent violations.

The legislation faced opposition by more than 30 business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce. Critics argued the law violates existing law on gender discrimination and may not pass legal muster if challenged in court. The number of African American women on Fortune 500 boards rose 26.2 percent in 2018, according to a study conducted by the Alliance for Board Diversity. The same study found that at the current rate of progress, the number of women and minorities on Fortune 500 boards will increase to 40 percent by 2024.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.