Bloomberg: Lawmaker Pushes SEC as Women Lag on Corporate Boards

Jan 21, 2016
In The News

By Rob Tricchinelli | January 4, 2016 7:58PM ET

Corporate Boards

Key Development: Women lag behind men in corporate board representation, according to a new GAO study.

Takeaway: A top House Democrat is pushing a legislative measure that would get the Securities and Exchange Commission involved by requiring companies to report their strategies for recruiting more women into top corporate positions, both on boards and in senior management.

Jan. 4 (BNA) -- Women lag behind men in corporate board representation, according to a new government study, and a top House Democrat is pushing a legislative measure that would get the Securities and Exchange Commission involved.

“Greater gender balance could take many years,” a Jan. 4 report (GAO-16-30) from the Government Accountability Office said, even as the percentage of women on the boards of Standard & Poor's Composite 1500 companies rose from 8 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2014.

Maloney

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), a top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, plans to unveil a bill that would require public companies to report their strategies for recruiting more women into top corporate positions, both on boards and in senior management.

“Investors are justly interested in more comprehensive information about board composition and policies to ensure a diverse slate of candidates,” Maloney said in a Jan. 4 letter to SEC Chairman Mary Jo White.

Maloney also asked the SEC to recommend ways that companies can boost the number of women on their boards.

“Even if we doubled the rate at which women are hired to corporate boards, we still wouldn't reach equality until 2056,” she said.

Diversity

The GAO report found that “information companies disclose on board diversity is not always useful to investors who value this information” because the SEC's disclosure regime “leaves it up to companies to define diversity in ways they consider appropriate.”

The SEC also has a requirement that companies disclose their policies for considering diversity when hiring board members, but that rule “may not yield useful information,” the report, which analyzed but didn't recommend potential SEC actions, said.