Women push SEC as women lag on corporate boards
NEW YORK – Women hold just 16 percent of seats in corporate boardrooms, even though they make up almost half of the nation’s workforce, and the disparity won’t be eliminated until at least 2056, according to a Government Accountability Office report requested by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12). That could change if new legislation unveiled today at the Peninsula Hotel is passed into law. The bill would require the Securities and Exchange Commission to update its diversity disclosure requirements, by requiring companies to report their strategies for recruiting more women into top corporate positions, both on boards and in senior management, and also urge corporations to develop strategies to achieve gender parity more quickly.
Maloney’s legislation would:
- Require an annual update from the SEC on exactly the number of women and men on corporate boards.
- Require publicly-traded companies to disclose the gender of board directors and nominees in their annual filings with the SEC.
Maloney was joined by many of the city’s prominent women for the announcement, including: Emily Rafferty—Board Member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Lally Weymouth—Senior Associate Editor of the Washington Post, Carolyn Carter—President, Women’s Forum of New York, Serena Fong—Vice President, Government Affairs for Catalyst, Brande Stellings—Vice President, Corporate Board Services for Catalyst, and Rita Cosby –Emmy-Winning TV and WABC Radio Host.
“I know women who serve on boards, but I don’t know that many, and that’s because there aren’t that many,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “That’s why I asked the GAO to look into this, and the numbers they came back with were startling. At this rate, our granddaughters, and their daughters will face discrimination. We’ve got to get proactive, and encourage more companies to take the gender gap on their boards seriously. Every study shows that it’s not just good for half the population, it’s important for the bottom line. Profits go up when women are in the boardroom.”
“We applaud Congresswoman Maloney’s initiative to bring more visibility to Board Diversity,” said Carolyn Carter, President of the Women’s Forum of New York. “Corporate boards are the leadership frontier for executive women. Study after study shows more diverse boards mean better business decisions and there’s a robust pipeline of board-ready women. Yet women hold only 19.2% of S&P 500 Board seats. We need to accelerate advancement and that means bringing focus to the issue. Congresswoman Maloney’s initiative does just that.”
"I am delighted to be among so many influential women to highlight such an important issue. No matter what the profession, in 2016 there is no excuse for women to be making less than their male counterparts. This event brings much needed attention to this outrageous pattern of pay disparity,” said Rita Cosby, Emmy-Winning TV and WABC Radio Host.
“Catalyst research shows that having more women on boards and in senior leadership, on average, improves organizations’ innovation and overall financial performance. But it’s not just good for business, it’s good for society: for women, men, families, communities, and economies,” said Deborah Gillis, Catalyst President and Chief Executive Officer.
“In today’s age, it is completely unacceptable to have such a large disparity when it comes to gender in corporate boardrooms – the fact is, there shouldn’t be any disparity at all,” said Carlo Scissura, President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “There’s no question that businesses, both small and large, improve when women take on leadership roles. As the father of a 10-month old girl, I’m appalled to think she won’t be given the same opportunities to succeed as a man. I want to thank Congresswoman Maloney for introducing this bill, which will ensure that we examine this problem and find ways to solve it.”
In January, Maloney wrote Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White to urge an update of the SEC’s existing board diversity disclosure. The GAO report Maloney requested found:
- In 2014, women comprised about 16 percent of board seats in the S&P 1500, up from 8 percent in 1997.
- Even if equal proportions of women and men joined boards each year beginning in 2015, it could take more than four decades for women to reach parity.
- Stakeholders GAO interviewed found that existing SEC disclosure requirements are inadequate.
PHOTO (L-R): Emily Rafferty, Lally Weymouth, Congresswoman Maloney, Rita Cosby, Carolyn Carter, Serena Fong