New California Law Imposes ‘Gender Quota’ on Corporate Boards
California on Sunday became the first state to impose a “gender quota” on corporate boards.
Similar to the principle of affirmative action, Senate Bill 826 requires publicly held companies to hire corporate directors based on gender. Companies who refuse to do so will face a $100,000 for the first violation and $300,000 for the second.
The controversial bill, which applies to all companies headquartered in California – even if they are incorporated in another state – will likely be defeated in court before it ever takes effect.
â€¨When asked why he would sign such a bill, California Governor Jerry Brown pointed to “recent events” such as the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. “Recent events in Washington, DC – and beyond – make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”
If implemented, Senate Bill 826 will require companies to have at least one female board member by the end of the year. By the end of 2021, five-member boards must have at least two women and larger boards must have at least three. Under the new law, men who “identify” as women will count towards the quota.
Supporters insist the bill is necessary to diversify corporate boards in California – where in major companies just 15.5% of board seats are held by women. Among companies listed in the Russell 3000 index, 25% have no female directors.
“With the governor’s support of SB 826 today, yet another glass ceiling is shattered, and women will finally have a seat at the table in corporate board rooms,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, the bill’s sponsor.
But opponents insist that hiring women based on their gender is offensive and degrading, and that the bill accomplishes the opposite of what it is intended to achieve.
SB 826 is “unconstitutional because it favors one element of a diverse workforce over all others,” argues California Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Chris Micheli. “Gender is an important aspect of board diversity, but the state should not elevate this element over all aspects of diversity.”
The women currently serving on corporate boards are there because they earned it. Think how they will feel meeting another female director – wondering if she is actually qualified or if she was just hired to fit a quota. The same thing goes for male coworkers, who will automatically look down on her.
The quota also threatens to tarnish the achievements of women who already hold respected positions in California corporations.
Editor’s Note: In the name of “equality,” California has just shown the soft bigotry of low expectations.