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Corporate America is ‘missing’ on diversity, homebuilder CEO says

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Corporate America would make great business strides if employers put more effort into making their workforce include women and “true diversity,” Sheryl Palmer, CEO of the country’s fifth-largest homebuilder, Taylor Morrison, told CNBC on Friday.

The comments came one day after a Wall Street Journal report found that just 6% of the 3,000 largest companies in the United States were led by a woman. The data, however, are more bleak for nonwhite women.

“The benefit of our organization is that we have different people thinking about the same problem differently,” Palmer told Jim Cramer in a “Mad Money” interview. “It gets us to a better place, and that’s what corporate America is missing today.”

Palmer, who also serves as president and chairman of the company, has served as chief executive of Taylor Morrison since 2007.

While there are more women in executive roles today than in decades past, they are more represented in human resources, legal, marketing and administrative leads than they are in operations, division heads and sales roles, which are more likely pathways to the chief executive position.

In a previous study, the Journal reported that women of color were given less access to roles that allowed them to manage people and projects or maneuver in corporate politics. In a 2019 survey of about 330 major companies, women of color held 4% of C-suite positions. Men of color held 10% of those roles.

“I think it has to be a groundswell,” Palmer said.

Among Taylor Morrison’s ranks, women are represented, she added. Almost half of its 3,000 employees are women and one-third of its executive seats are filled by women, she said.

“I’m very pleased about our organization and the way we’ve approached this. I’ll be honest, Jim, we actually don’t have quotas in the company,” Palmer said. “We don’t even have any affinity programs. What we do have is a bias of putting the best person in every job.”

Taylor Morrison on Wednesday closed on its $2.5 billion acquisition of William Lyon Homes, giving the homebuilder more access to the Washington, Oregon and Nevada markets. The company expects the deal to also give it better access to the entry-level home market, which is where the housing supply is scarce.

Earlier this week, Taylor Morrison reported a mixed fourth-quarter performance. The company beat on the top line, bringing in roughly $1.47 billion in revenue, but missed earnings estimates, 51 cents per share compared with analyst projections of $1.01 per share, according to FactSet.

The stock fell more than 1% in Friday’s session. Investors value the company at $2.8 billion.



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