November 24, 2023

Bridging the Gap: The Vanguard Black Board Readiness Program

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If you've been observing the boardrooms of top companies globally, you'll be familiar with the ongoing conversation about boardroom diversity—or the lack thereof. While progress has been made regarding gender diversity, a significant gap remains, particularly concerning Black executives.

Today, we’re excited to delve into an initiative that aims to change the narrative: The Vanguard Black Board Readiness Program, spearheaded by NGP Capital and Egon Zehnder.

Setting the Context

A quick glance at recent stats from FTSE 100 companies shows promising progress in board diversification. However, a deeper look reveals a different picture. Across the UK and the USA, the latest research indicates that most boards are predominantly white - with only 8.1% of board directorships held by Black individuals.

Such figures don’t just signify a representation gap, but also point towards missed opportunities and untapped potentials that come with boardroom diversity.

Enter the Vanguard Black Board Readiness Program

Recognizing this gap, we at NGP Capital, in collaboration with Egon Zehnder - a global executive search firm - have launched the Vanguard Black Board Readiness Program. The year-long program aims to empower Black executives, providing them with an avenue to shatter glass ceilings and secure non-executive board positions at venture-backed startups and private companies.

Delivered in monthly sessions, the participants are given unmatched exposure to crucial boardroom topics and networks. Our goal is to offer an integrated platform for Black executives to gain insights, foster connections, and understand the intricacies of high growth, both at privately-owned and public companies.

The Journey Begins

The inaugural cohort of this initiative started in June 2023, bringing together 18 hand-picked Black executives from both sides of the Atlantic

With monthly modules covering crucial boardroom topics like board composition, strategy formulation, risk management, ESG, succession planning and more, the participants are given a comprehensive learning experience.

Leading investors and advisors from NGP Capital, Atomico, and others have already stepped up, contributing content to enrich the program.

Yet, the call to action remains…

As the program leaders, we are proactively seeking engagement from more VC and Private Equity firms, not only as content providers but also as crucial connectors to introduce the executives to potential board positions within their portfolio companies.

Obinna Onyeagoro, the program director and consultant at Egon Zehnder, has rightly emphasized: that non-executive membership has historically functioned like an exclusive club.

Our goal together with Egon Zehnder is to rewrite this narrative.

As investors, we understand diverse experiences and perspectives aren't just beneficial—they're crucial for the robust leadership required by ambitious global startups. Our unique insights into board service and corporate governance can greatly amplify the value proposition of the Vanguard Black Board Readiness Program.

So, if you’re a VC in Europe or the U.S., and want to get involved, we’d love to hear from you! Reach out directly to Egon Zehnder (