Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that makes California the first state that requires corporate board of directors to include women, stating that despite what may very well be “fatal” legal problems within the measure, it’s time to force action.
In a signing message dated September 30th, 2018, Brown wrote: “Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America.”
The bill, titled SB-826, was first introduced by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).
The new law will require publicly traded corporations that are headquartered in California to include at least one woman on their board of directors before the end of 2019 in an effort to close the gender gap in businesses in the state. By the end of 2021, the bill mandates that number must increase to no less than 2 women directors if corporation has 5 directors, or to a minimum of 3 women if the corporation has 6 or more directors. Companies that fail to comply face fines of $100,000 for the first violation and $300,000 for a second or subsequent violation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Jackson thanked Brown via tweet on Sunday writing, “Thank you
@JerryBrownGov for signing #sb826 ! Yet another glass ceiling is shattered, and women will finally have a seat at the table in corporate board rooms. Corporations will be more profitable. This is a giant step forward for women, our businesses and our economy @NAWBOCA”
Thank you @JerryBrownGov for signing #sb826 ! Yet another glass ceiling is shattered, and women will finally have a seat at the table in corporate board rooms. Corporations will be more profitable. This is a giant step forward for women, our businesses and our economy @NAWBOCA
— Hannah-Beth Jackson (@SenHannahBeth) September 30, 2018
Co-Author of the bill, California state Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), also thanked Brown via tweet on Sunday saying, “THANK YOU
@jerrybrowngov for signing #SB826! @SenHannahbeth and I authored this bill because it’s indeed “high time” corporate boards include women. https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/SB-826-signing-message.pdf ….”
— Senator Toni Atkins (@SenToniAtkins) September 30, 2018
Not everyone was as happy about the new bill as Jackson and Atkins. The California Chamber of Commerce along with a coalition of about 30 businesses and groups in California have argued the bill is unconstitutional.
“Gender is an important aspect of diversity, as are the other protected classifications recognized under our laws,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the California state Senate in May. “We are concerned that the mandate under SB 826 that focuses only on gender potentially elevates it as a priority over other aspects of diversity.”
In Browns signing statement, he acknowledged the bill’s opponents but explained why he would be signing despite their concerns.
“There have been numerous objections to this bill and serious legal concerns have been raised,” Brown wrote. “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation. Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C. — and beyond — make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”
SB-826 is not the only #MeToo inspired bills Brown signed on Sunday. Huffington Post reported the following bills:
▪ Senate Bill 419, by Sen. Anthony Portantino, (D-La Cañada Flintridge), which prohibits the Legislature from firing or discriminating against an employee or lobbyist who files a harassment complaint. It also requires the Senate and Assembly to maintain records of harassment complaints for at least 12 years.
▪ Senate Bill 820, by Sen. Connie Leyva, (D-Chino), which prohibits secret settlements and non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. While a victim could choose to keep his or her name private, the perpetrator’s identity cannot be confidential.
▪ Senate Bill 1300, by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, (D-Santa Barbara), which forbids companies from requiring their workers to sign releases of liability as a condition of continued employment or in exchange for a bonus. “California is stating clearly that we believe and support victims,” Jackson said in a statement.
▪ Senate Bill 1343, by Sen. Holly Mitchell, (D-Los Angeles), which expands a biannual sexual harassment training mandate to nearly all California employees.
▪ Assembly Bill 1619, by Assemblyman Marc Berman, (D-Palo Alto), which provides victims up to a decade to seek civil damages from a sexual assault.
▪ Assembly Bill 2055, by Assemblyman Marc Levine, (D-Greenbrae), which adds information about the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy to ethics training for lobbyists.
▪ Assembly Bill 3118, by Assemblyman David Chiu, (D-San Francisco), which requires a statewide audit of untested rape kits.
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