Newly-Sponsored California Bill to Require Women on Company Boards
A new bill proposing to have at least one woman on the board of a publicly-traded company headquartered in California has now been sponsored.
By law, women may soon become a part of every company board in California. The SB 826 bill sets to advance gender representation in corporate governance as well as promote workplace culture, among other things. According to the bill, public companies must have one or more women on their board before the end of 2019. To this end, public companies with up to five directors must have two or more women on their board, while those with six directors must have up to three women as members of the board by 2021.
The bill is backed by two female state senators, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and pro Tempore Senate President Toni Atkins of San Diego.
“Good For a Company’s Bottom Line”
Publicly traded companies headquartered in California that fail to incorporate this new law will face sanctions.
A finding conducted by Board Governance Research revealed that about one-quarter of the 445 public companies in California do not have a single woman on their boards. Incidentally, California was the first U.S. state in 2013 to push for gender diversity in public companies. The resolution was optional for public companies headquartered in the state, so only 20 percent of total companies involved actually complied by installing women on their boards.
Sen. Jackson disclosed that having women on company boards allows for various ideas and differing perspectives. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s good for a company’s bottom line,” she said.
Opponents Say the Bill Contradicts Corporate Laws Regulating Companies’ Affairs
Opponents of the bill, on the other hand, do not see much good in forcing public companies to have women on their boards. Jennifer Barrera, Senior Vice President of Policy at the California Chamber of Commerce, says the bill only has partial benefits, while disregarding more important aspects of corporate decision-making.
Several business associations oppose having women on boards statutorily on the basis that it is discriminatory against men, and that it goes against corporate law which provides that an organization’s internal affairs shouldn’t controlled by the laws of the state in which it is registered.
The National Association of Women Business Owners, which sponsored the bill, stated that organizations with women directors fare far better than corporations with only men as their directors. Annalisa Barrett, clinical professor of finance at the University of San Diego Business School, disclosed that California is often regarded as a leader in many areas, but it is a “shame” that many companies headquartered in the state lack women directors.