Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member

Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member
© Getty

Facebook announced on Thursday that it will bring Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of American Express, onto its board.

Chenault will become the first African-American board member at the social media giant.

His hiring follows a contentious meeting between Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in October, in which Sandberg promised that the company was in the process of appointing a black individual to the board.

ADVERTISEMENT

CBC members including Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyLawmakers sound alarm over Amazon face recognition software Dem letter calls for rolling back move targeting drug companies Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting MORE (D-Ill.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-N.J.) and Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanEx-GOP lawmaker: Strzok hearing 'was a humiliating day' for Republicans Fox's Ingraham chides Gohmert for infidelity questions of Strzok: 'I didn't think that was good' Fox's Perino: Strzok marriage questions by GOP lawmaker 'felt like a public lynching' MORE (D-N.J.) praised Chenault's appointment to the board.

"I’m pleased to see Facebook taking real action to address the issue of diversity within their company," Kelly said. "When we began this dialogue with Facebook, we expected swift action and this decision is without a doubt a step in the right direction."

She did note that she would still like to see the technology industry do more on increasing diversity within its ranks. 

"Much work still remains to diversify Silicon Valley. Progress has been slow and we will continue to press companies to enact inclusive hiring policies," she said. 

Chenault will also become one of a few black board members at major technology firms across Silicon Valley, joining others like Ursula Burns at Uber and Debra Lee at Twitter.

"I've been trying to recruit Ken for years. He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve — customer service, direct commerce, and building a trusted brand,” Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergZuckerberg: ‘I absolutely didn't intend to defend’ Holocaust deniers Hillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Zuckerberg says he won't ban Holocaust deniers from Facebook if they're not 'intentionally getting it wrong' MORE said in a statement announcing Chenault’s hiring.

“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."

Chenault is also a board member at IBM and has been working at American Express since 1981.

“We get a lot of lip service from the technology companies,” Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldOn The Money: Harley-Davidson decision raises trade tensions with Trump | Senate panel to take up tariff legislation | CBO projects grim budget outlook under Trump | White House objects to measure on reinstating ZTE ban Dem lawmakers seek distance from Waters call for confrontation 'Diamond & Silk' offer chance for bipartisan push back on social media censorship MORE (D-N.C.), who is a member of the CBC, told reporters after meeting with Sandberg in October. “We’ve continued to exert pressure on technology companies to be more diverse and inclusive. Not only will it help their bottom line, but it will make America stronger.”

This story was updated at 12:47 p.m.