Senate Bill 826, passed easily by the state Legislature in August 2018, requires publicly traded companies headquartered in California to have a minimum of one woman on their boards of directors by January 2020 — and two or three by January 2022, depending on board size.
Of the 621 state-headquartered companies that are also traded on major stock exchanges, 29 percent have all-male boards, according to research from San Diego’s Board Governance Research. That pencils out to 1,060 seats that need to be filled by women by 2022. But getting into position to be invited onto a corporate board is a steep road for any executive. So how do qualified women rise to the top? It won’t be easy.
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Last August’s law, SB 826, was in part the product of frustration. In 2013, one of its sponsors, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, authored a resolution that urged all publicly held California corporations to ensure one-fifth of their board directors were women by the end of 2016. While adopted by both legislative chambers, the resolution carried no consequences. When the deadline rolled around, fewer than 20 percent of companies had actually hit the target, according to a Senate analysis.
A new California law is forcing publicly-traded for-profit businesses to get women on their boards. Yet getting tapped for a directorship is no easy feat.