California State Treasurer Fiona Ma is launching a registry of potential women board members to share with corporations in an effort to get more women to serve on corporate boards and help corporations comply with a new California law
Treasurer Ma is inviting women experienced in banking, public finance, accounting, and executive-level decision-making to join the registry by sending their resumes to her office, if they are interested in serving on a corporate board. She intends to match the resumes to boards that correlate with a person’s skill set.
In 2018, California became the first state to require publicly held corporations to include women on their boards after then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB 826, Jackson/Atkins) into law. Treasurer Ma said that when she meets with the heads of these publicly held corporations, she wants to be able to connect them with qualified women who want to serve on their boards.
“We still have a long way to go to bring gender diversity to our corporate boards. It’s time to shatter that glass ceiling,” said Treasurer Ma.
In California, about one-quarter of public companies still have no women on their boards.
On July 1, 2019, the Secretary of State will publish a report on its Internet Web site documenting the number of domestic and foreign corporations whose principal executive offices, according to the corporation’s SEC 10-K form, are located in California and who have at least one female director.
By 2021, the companies must have a minimum of two or three women, depending on the size of their boards. Hundreds of companies will be affected by the law and those that fail to comply can be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for a second.
Morgan Stanley Capital International, (MSCI) a financial planning firm, did a study in March, 2018 showing that corporations with three or more women on their board of directors and use talented management practices outperformed companies with fewer than three. They had employee productivity 1.2 percentage points above the median in their industries, and a higher average dividend payout ratio and return on equity than companies without three female board members.
France, Germany Norway and other nations have already passed gender diversity requirements for corporate boards. In 2003, Norway passed legislation requiring 40 percent of corporate board members to be women. Before the law, just 9 percent were women. Now 44.2 percent are women.
In signing SB 826, Brown wrote, “as far back as 1886, and before women were even allowed to vote, corporations have been considered persons within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. 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.”
Women who are interested in being included in the registry are encouraged to contact Xochilt Becerra at the State Treasurer’s Office. Her phone number is (916) 653-2995 and her email address is Xochilt.Becerra@treasurer.ca.gov.