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Illinois Almost Follows in California’s Board Footsteps: The Broadsheet

June 7, 2019, 12:26 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here to close out the week. Mette Frederiksen is Denmark’s youngest-ever prime minister, mammograms go glam, and Illinois came close to following in California’s footsteps on board diversity. Have a wonderful weekend.


Almost making board history.  Last week, Illinois seemed set to follow in California's footsteps with legislation requiring companies based in the state to meet diversity benchmarks for their boards of directors.

But then things took a turn.

The bill was, as Rev. Jesse Jackson put it to the Chicago Tribune, "gutted" during the final days of Illinois's spring legislative session.

Originally meant to build on the California legislation, the Illinois bill would have required at least one woman, one African-American and one person of Hispanic descent on the boards of all publicly traded companies headquartered in the state. That list includes McDonald's, the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Ulta Beauty, and more.

Instead, the legislation that passed the state Senate only requires companies to disclose the demographics of their boards and executives and makes plans for an annual report card on companies' diversity, to be graded by the University of Illinois.

According to Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch, who introduced the bill, the pivot came after Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker raised concerns. Among them: The legislation was boundary pushing and therefore controversial.

"That came up over and over," Welch told me. "The governor seemed convinced that one of our rightwing opponents would get someone to go into court and test the new law. When we put something out there, we want to put something out there we don't believe can be challenged."

Nevertheless, Welch says he's satisfied with the compromise. "We're all happy. We believe it was a big victory," he says.

But Welch's original legislation—meant to address the disconnect between the representation in corporate leadership and the Illinois consumers providing these companies with their revenue—would have led on this issue nationwide. Not everyone likes California's quota, but Illinois came close to moving those benchmarks beyond gender into a more holistic view of board diversity.

The diversity disclosure bill is headed to the governor's desk. McDonald's, get your report cards ready.

Emma Hinchliffe


23andThree. In a new profile, Anne Wojcicki shares more about 23andMe's grand ambitions: a "biotech machine" that will use its DNA database to both determine genetic predisposition to disease and create drugs to treat those diseases. (She also discusses her third pregnancy, this time as a single parent. "I really wanted a third child. So like, guess what? I executed," she says.) Forbes

Hashtag activism. The rape case against JD.com billionaire Richard Liu involved an edited video of a woman showing him up to her apartment—presented as proof that he was invited for sex. The video has inspired the hashtag #NoPerfectVictim in China. It's taken off even as #MeToo was banned by the government. New York Times

Young Frederiksen. After the Social Democrats won elections in Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, 41, will be the country's youngest-ever prime minister. "Together we have created a hope that we can change Denmark," she says. BBC

Mammoglam. How to get women to come in for oft-dreaded mammograms? Try massages, sound baths, and spa-style robes. It's the "mammoglam," available at boutique medical clinics. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sharon White stepped down as chief executive of British media regulator Ofcom to serve as chairman of the retail giant John Lewis. Kickstarter's Deepa Subramaniam joins the ACLU as its first chief product and digital officer. Alexandra Shapiro joins LendingClub as CMO. BuzzFeed News head of programming Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale will add oversight of BuzzFeed Studios to her role as the company rethinks its Hollywood strategy.


Women for Warren. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's surge in the polls this month is causing some women to dream—maybe a female candidate could win the presidency after all, despite the heartbreak many felt in 2016. Slate

Policy proposal. Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced a new proposal that is the closest plan in Congress to a universal basic income. The plan would offer $3,000 to $6,000 to individuals and families at low income levels—including those with no income, a point of contention among some lawmakers. (It's not a true UBI, which provides cash to everyone regardless of income level.) Washington Post

Sky's the limit. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are counting on Sky Brown to save the event from declining interest about young viewers. The 10-year-old skateboarder draws millions of views online, and will be one of the first to compete in the new Olympic sport. Bloomberg

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