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Bill Requires California Corporate Boards to Include Women

California Gov. Jerry Brown

"It's high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the 'persons' in America," California Gov. Jerry Brown wrote in a signing statement.

Credit: Washington Post

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday (Sept. 30) signed a bill into law that makes California the first U.S. state to require corporate boards of directors to include women, saying that despite potentially "fatal" legal problems in the measure, it is time to force action.

"Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it's high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the 'persons' in America," Brown wrote in a signing message.

The new law requires publicly traded corporations headquartered in California to include at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019 as part of an effort to close the gender gap in business.

By the end of July 2021, a minimum of two women must sit on boards with five members, and there must be at least three women on boards with six or more members. Companies that fail to comply face fines.

Business groups have questioned the legality of a state imposing such requirements on corporations. But Brown was not persuaded by the opposition. "There have been numerous objections to this bill, and serious legal concerns have been raised," Brown said. "I don't minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation."

A quarter of California's publicly traded companies do not have a woman on their boards, according to Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who introduced the legislation with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). "With women comprising over half the population and making over 70% of purchasing decisions, their insight is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions, and profitability," Jackson said.

From Los Angeles Times
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