SB 826 Helps to Mitigate the Gender Gap in Corporate Leadership

By Heather Feibleman

California Senate Bill 826, which requires at least one women to be on the corporate boards of publicly traded companies, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Sept. 30. These companies will need to have at least one women on their boards by the end of 2019 and will need at least half of the people on their boards to be female by 2021. This bill pushes for gender equality in business leadership at a time where about 5% of CEOS are female. Although there has been pushback on this bill from corporate leaders who argue that it is unconstitutional, recent studies have verified the financial, social, and political benefits of having an increased proportion of women in business leadership roles. According to a recently published article from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, top companies “like Credit Suisse, McKinsey, and Catalyst have shown that the presence of women at top levels of management and leadership has been correlated with better financial performance for the company” (McElhaney). More and more companies are beginning to realize that diversifying leadership creates a more unified workforce. Giving voices to those who are often pushed to the side encourages a collaborative workplace environment rather than an exclusive one. The YWCA of Berkeley/Oakland supports the passage of SB 826 as it pushes for greater gender equality in a field which is notoriously difficult for qualified women to break into. While placing more women on corporate boards may not solve the gender wage gap or stop sexism in the workplace, it does bring California one step closer to gender equality.