A tremendous victory for women as California becomes the first state to pass legislation requiring at least one woman on a public-company's board. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law over the weekend, which requires 165 California-based public companies to have at least one woman on their corporate board by the end of 2019.
Additionally, the bill would require at least two women to be appointed to a board with five directors or more. This move to address the lack of gender diversity will be especially beneficial to the technology sector, which is commonly known to have a lack of women. This new legislation is a partial victory in the debate for gender equity and fairness within corporate boardrooms.
Although it is not a total win, it is a huge start. This measure will create more awareness about the lack of women on corporate boards. According to the Global Development Institute, 53 percent of corporations added women to their boards of directors by increasing the size of the board, rather than by replacing male directors.
The impact of this latest development has numerous effects that you need to consider as your company grows. Here are five ways you can re-evaluate your company's approach to gender inclusion.
1. Diversify your advisory team.
Before you create your advisory board or go public with your company, ensure that your board reflects diverse perspectives and addresses all gender deficiencies. Although the law is strictly in California today, it is a matter of time before other states will follow. Take a proactive approach to assessing the needs of your advisory team.
2. Create in-house gender inclusion listening sessions.
Remember, it is easy to be unaware of the way your team feels about representation. Employees are often silent about speaking up about diversity due to a lack of publicly addressing the issue. The world is changing, and we can no longer be reactive about gender-normative experiences and representation in leadership roles. Make your employees and team part of the process of identifying such leadership deficiencies.
3. Understand that change takes time.
Corporate boardrooms have been traditionally void of women and other diverse perspectives. Be patient, change takes time. When you are diversifying a company, it takes time to adjust to new people, thoughts and ideas. Do not force it, let it happen authentically once everyone brings value.
4. Be transparent.
Keep your team and shareholders in the loop about any and all efforts that you are taking toward creating an inclusive corporate board. In addition, during your listening sessions, take advice from your team. The new legislation in California will make transparency mandatory, which many companies have not done when it comes to their corporate boards. This level of accountability will reassure your partners, investors and stakeholders that you are active about the growth of your business.
5. Don't wait until it becomes mandatory.
The tech industry in California has been the subject of numerous debates, articles, studies and conferences about gender inequity. It took legislative measures for stakeholders, who are now forced to address the issue. Women are demanding a valuable presence in leadership and reactive approaches to changing the narrative will never appear genuine to your target market. Take action before it is mandatory.