California Quotas for Board Diversity

Jerry Brown just signed SB 826 which makes California the first state in the nation to require that all public corporate boards based in the state have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019. You can read Shannon’s full take on the mandate from her recent Medium post here. After the bill initially passed the state legislature TheBoardlist wanted to know what our community thought about the proposal. We worked with Qualtrics to survey our database of women and men to learn how they felt about the issue, the proposal and their take on a solution. With over 250 respondents (89 % female and 11% male) weighing in from across the country, we found overwhelming support for the bill.

95% of Californians surveyed believe that corporations are not doing enough to add more women to their board of directors and 71% of Californians responded that they support this bill. While the numbers for male respondents was significantly less than that of the female (most likely due to the lopsided make-up of our community) it was interesting to note that only 40% of men supported the bill, but nearly 80% of women surveyed wanted it to be signed into law. While we know that the men in our community are clearly supportive of women having more opportunities at the leadership roles, they differ from their female cohorts on how best to make that happen.

The top reasons given for supporting the bill are spot on: 42% of those that support the bill stated the fact that diverse companies are more profitable and coming in second at 38% is the desire for women who have already proven their equal value should be given positions they deserve.

Outside of California our community expressed very strong support for the bill. 98% of respondents outside of California hope that a similar bill is passed in their own states. For those that didn’t support the bill, 37% cited government overreach as the number one reason, so it might not be surprising to learn that less than 50% of Republicans from our community were in support of the quota mandate, whereas, almost 85% of Democrats surveyed thought it was the right idea at the right time.

Here at theBoardlist, we acknowledge the pros and cons of quotas. But, today we are celebrating Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to move forward with this law and look forward to seeing how it impacts the diversity of boardrooms around the state.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the passage of this bill. What do you think it will mean for women in California? Do you anticipate backlash? Do you see it as a good thing? Let us know below.