The Hill: Dem rep: Companies should disclose gender of board nominees

Jan 21, 2016
In The News

By Lydia Wheeler - 01/04/16 03:26 PM EST

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wants to force publicly traded companies to disclose the gender, race and ethnicity of their board nominees when soliciting shareholder votes.

In a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Jo White on Monday, Maloney applauded the the agency’s challenge to all Fortune 1000 and S&P 500 companies to set a target of 40 percent women on their corporate boards by 2025.

“In order to meet this target, I urge the SEC to adopt a proposed amendment to proxy statement disclosures to require the clear indication of each board nominee's gender, race, and ethnicity,” she said.

“This proposal, submitted by the leaders of several large public pension funds, will allow investors and policymakers to evaluate companies’ progress towards the ambitious 40 percent goal.”

Her letter is a response to the Government Accountability Office report released Monday, which found that women make up just 16 percent of seats on corporate boards.

Even if equal proportions of women and men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, the report said, it could take more than four decades for women's representation on boards to be on par with that of men's.

"That means a girl born today will still face the same disparities in the boardroom that her mother and grandmother faced” Maloney said in a news release. “At a minimum the SEC should update its deeply flawed diversity disclosure requirements, so that corporations have to report gender diversity.”

In her letter to the SEC, Maloney said even companies without a formal policy in place do better with women on their boards or a female CEO. She cited a recent report published by MSCI, which found that companies with "strong female leadership" generated a higher return on equity and valuation than companies lacking female leadership, and a 2014 Credit Suisse report that found companies with at least one woman on their board outperformed other companies by 5 percent.