The California House and Senate passed a bill that requires all publicly held corporations that are headquartered in California to have at least one woman on their board by the end of 2019 and two by July of 2021. It's waiting for the governor's signature.
One of the bill's co-authors, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) said:
"We are not going to ask anymore. We are tired of being nice. We're tired of being polite. We are going to require this because it's going to benefit the economy. It's going to benefit each of these companies. It's time that we burst that man-cave and put women in the boardrooms."
First of all, requiring something on a governmental level doesn't generally help the economy. Second, Senator Jackson clearly doesn't understand how business works.
You see, businesses want to succeed. They want to make money. They want to be profitable. And if they thought they could make more money with different people on their boards, they would put different people on their boards. They don't keep women off the boards because they like to keep the boardrooms as "man-caves."
Yes, there is discrimination. Yes, it was worse in the past. But the reality is, you don't put 25-year-olds on most boards of director. You want people with experience in leadership roles. And because women are less likely to obtain those high positions, there are fewer available.
While you can blame some of that on discrimination, most of it comes down to choice. Men are more likely to choose intensive careers that lead to senior leadership roles.
By mandating a certain number of women on each board, California is simply saying they don't believe women are capable of earning a seat at the table themselves. The only way to do it is to force boards to accept them.
I find that appalling.
Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the other co-author of the bill, displayed her misunderstanding of how life works as follows: "I am sick and tired of being in a position of influence and power and yet seeing so many people like me who are still pleading to be given that opportunity."
No one gives you anything. You work for it. Does she really think that the male members of Boards were just sitting around the pool drinking cool beverages (this is California, after all) when a fairy godmother (also a woman with immense power) swooped down and placed them on a board of directors?
Because that's what it sounds like.
Women don't need this pandering. Companies don't want to do things that won't help them to be profitable. If Atkins and Jackson just sit back and wait a few years, they'll likely see an increase in women on boards anyway. Why? Because the longer women are climbing the corporate ladder, the more you'll see at the top.
If Governor Brown signs it, you'll undoubtedly see lawsuits around this, as opponents claim it violates numerous California laws.