What Glass Ceiling? California May Become First State to Mandate Women on Corporate Boards

August 28, 2018, 9:40 PM UTC

Could California become the first state to mandate shattering the corporate glass ceiling? In a bill already passed by the California State Senate, the boards of publicly-traded companies based in California would be required to meet gender diversity quotas starting in 2019. SB-826 heads to the California State Assembly floor the week of August 27.

If passed, California would join nations including France, Japan, and Norway in utilizing quotas to achieve gender diversity in corporate boardrooms. For California-based publicly-traded companies, SB826 would require that by the end of 2019, each public, corporate board in California include at least one woman. Included in the bill is an ambitious 2021 benchmark requiring two women on five-member boards, and at least three women on corporate boards with six or more members.

California state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, the bill’s author, has noted it would help the state lead on gender diversity nationwide, and that such requirements as boardroom benchmarks could lead to greater workplace protections for women, including against sexual harassment.

A number of trade groups opposed the bill, as does the California Chamber of Commerce. In a letter filed with the state assembly, the chamber and more than a dozen trade organizations, including the California Trucking Association and the California Restaurant Association, noted their agreement with the aims of the bill but suggested that the way SB826 is constructed would violate the United States Constitution and civil rights laws.

The bill passed the California State Senate in May 2018. If it passes the California State Assembly, where amendments may be made, SB826 will move back to the state senate for final approval.

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