Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member

Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member
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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.

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CBC members including Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyWorries mount as cybersecurity agency struggles amid shutdown Hillicon Valley: Apple cutting iPhone production | Senior citizens more likely to share fake news on Facebook | Graham says AG nominee will let Mueller finish probe | Dems warn shutdown hurting IT recruitment Hillicon Valley: Marriott cuts breach estimates, but says millions of passports exposed | Los Angeles sues Weather Channel app over data collection | Bill would create office to fight Chinese threats to US tech | German politicians hit by major breach MORE (D-Ill.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-N.J.) and Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanBaseball legend Frank Robinson, first black manager in MLB, dies at 83 Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Dem lawmaker to bring former Trump property undocumented worker to State of the Union 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 ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election Patients, health data experts accuse Facebook of exposing personal info Hillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise 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 ButterfieldWinners and losers in the border security deal Pelosi runs tight ship as more stormy waters await Lean job market for Dems on K Street 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.