All Aboard with California Law that Requires All Companies to Include One Female Board Director

Could 2019 Be the Year That Shattered the Proverbial Glass Ceiling?

Women in Power Series – By Vanessa Yanez

2019 has just begun and is already offering breakthrough opportunities for seasoned female professional.  California has become the first state requiring corporations to have at least one female on their board of directors.  The Senate Bill No. 826 was approved and drafted in September of last year so we’re anticipating to witness the shift it will fully set in motion by the end of 2019. Former Governor Brown knew it was controversial and took the unusual initial to add a note when introducing the bill.  “There have been numerous objections to this bill and serious legal concerns have been raised,” the former governor said in a letter to the state Senate. “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation. Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C. — and beyond — make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message,” Brown wrote.

HP ahead of the curve for workplace diversity

As HP’s Head of Print Communications, I’m so proud to be working for a company that has adopted a solid diversity model for Californians to visualize for their home companies. HP has already seen a 6% increase in female board directors since 2015 and the momentum keeps growing.

The complications female professionals face in California

For years, we have seen significant gender discrepancies in the workplace. Women are still heavily excluded from higher employment and the levels have reached an even more critical degree in our old Golden State of California. For instance, the number of women board 3,000 only increased an underwhelming half percent within a 3-year/timespan. The Russell 3000 index showed that 26% of California’s public companies contained zero women on their boards. In 2017, the Board Governance Research LLC synthesized data from over 400 public corporations (valued at $5 trillion) and found that women directors only represented 15% of its total. Despite teachings of gender diversity spreading far and wide, barely 12% of this sample held a minimum of three female board members.

The value of gender diversity in the workplace

It has been a tedious process for some women to finally feel heard in a workplace setting. However, we’re all excited for the positive changes that are soon to come because of SB826. Firstly, there is the psychology and humanity of continually seeing large gender differences within corporate hierarchies. The more that women are shown being respected and appreciated in power roles, it’s more likely to influence generations of little girls who simply need to see a “girl do it” in order to feel confident in their dreams. The bill’s co-author, Jackson, felt it was necessary because she wasn’t seeing any progress. An “aspirational” resolution that she wrote in 2013 urging corporate boards to voluntarily add women “fell on deaf ears,” with the percentage of women on corporate boards barely inching up from 15.5 percent in 2013 to 16 percent five years later.

I personally feel very pleased about the economic and labor implications of this new policy.  MSCI pinpointed that companies with three or more female directors actually averaged 45% higher than opposing companies. Additionally, Credit Suisse carried out a six-year international study comprising of over 2,000 companies showing that women enhance primary metrics within business efficiency with stock performance being one of many metrics that improved. The report also found entities with women directors and market caps exceeding $10 billion outworking those with male-dominant boards by 26%. The numbers speak for themselves!

Looking forward to a stronger female workforce

As we move forward into a time period where gender, class, and identification are of utmost importance, SB826 aims to strengthen equity efforts in California. If managed responsibly an ethically, I personally feel that California’s new policy has the potential to create added value for women in the workplace. Hopefully, it does produce the expected benefits that California employees believe will allow its workplace dynamic to flourish.

About the Author:

Vanessa Yanez – World Wide Head of Print Communications at HP. You may find out more about Vanessa on LinkedIn

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