board diversity

CA Urges its Public Companies to Put More Women on Their Boards - SCR 62

In another "California leads the nation" moment, on Thursday, September 12, the California State Assembly passed Resolution SCR 62 urging all publicly held corporations over the next three years to add women to their boards of directors. The California Senate approved the resolution on August 26. California is the first state in the US to take a stand on gender diversity in the boardroom and the first state to define boardroom diversity as three women directors with a timeline of three years.
 
SCR 62 is not a law but it demonstrates the state's commitment to diversifying the boards of California public companies. It urges companies to have a minimum of 3 women directors on every corporate board of 9 members or more by the end of 2016. Boards with 5 to 8 seats should have a minimum of two women, and boards with 4 or fewer seats should have at least one woman.
 
According to research conducted by UC Davis almost half of the 400 largest publicly held corporations in California have NO women on their boards.
 
The National Association of Women Business Owners - California (NAWBO-CA) was the sponsoring organization of SCR-62. The resolution's authors included Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal of Long Beach CA,  both Vice Chairs of the California Legislative Women's Caucus.
 
Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, 2020 Women on Boards/LA Chapter Co-Chair with Renee Fraser, and a board member of NAWBO-CA, worked tirelessly to bring forward this initiative. We encourage 2020 supporters to work with their own state legislators to pass similar resolutions. To get started, find the Women's Caucus (group of women legislators) in your state.
 

Those In The Know

 
Speak Out, Margaret!
 
Those in the know, namely some pretty big institutional investors, have called the addition of Margaret Hayne to Urban Outfitter’s board “cynical” “bogus” and a “calculated insult" to investors who have supported shareholder resolutions against Urban's all male board.
 
Ms. Hayne, the wife of Urban's CEO Richard Hayne, is president of the company's Free People brand and is Urban Outfitter's second largest shareholder, outside of her husband. A smart businesswoman she's qualified to serve on lots of boards, but not on this one, shareholder activists say.
 
And while there's reason to believe that Mr. Hayne put his wife on the board to silence his critics, maybe he's provided us with an opportunity.
 
When Mark Zuckerberg put Sheryl Sandberg on Facebook's board he got a lot of flack because Sheryl was an insider. But soon after Sandberg's appointment, Facebook added a second woman, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, a Chancellor of the University of California and former president at Genintech.  In our lingo, Facebook became a "W" Company.
 
So, we're reaching out to Margaret Hayne and asking her to speak out; to tell her husband and his cronies that her appointment marks a change; the buck doesn't stop here. The board needs another woman, and maybe a person of color to be more representative of Urban's stakeholders. Ms. Hayne has an opportunity to mend some fences. We hope she's up to the task.

What do China, Japan and the US have in Common?

 
Happy International Women's Day. We want to celebrate the occasion by bringing you this news: France has overtaken the United States' lead role in the number of women serving on the boards of Fortune Global 100 companies -- France 25.1%, US 20.9%, according to a Corporate Women Directors International study.
 
If that's not bad enough, the US joins China and Japan in having the lowest rate of women-held board seats among Fortune 200 companies, according to the International Business Times. Gee, China and Japan are not known for their women- friendly policies. That's some strange company we're keeping.
 
It's true that France's leap in women-held board seats is due to government-mandated quotas, but in just two years the number of women directors has doubled and their 2014 targets have already been met.
 
We don't advocate quotas. We think that American companies should do the right thing and diversify their boards on their own. We've even given them a benchmark: 20% or more by 2020. It doesn't seem like a lot to ask.
 
The US might learn a thing or two from Finland, where women now hold 22% of the board seats. They didn't need quotas to get there. Instead, they took the initiative themselves and put into place diversity oversight.
 
We encourage US companies to find and add women to the boards. Qualified women are ready to serve.

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