This week, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), a member of the House Financial Services Committee announced plans to introduce a bill which would require the SEC to require disclosure on company strategies for recruiting more women into board and C-Suite roles. The announcement followed the release of a January 4 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which noted that greater gender balance could take many years, citing a statistic which showed a growth of women on the boards of S&P 1500 companies from eight percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2014. Pursuant to the report, the GAO conducted interviews with stakeholders regarding factors which may hinder women's representation among board of directors. Among the factors cited in the study include few women serving in roles which traditionally act as a pipeline to board service, low turnover among board seats and a lack of prioritization of diverse board candidates. SEC rules that took effect in 2010 require companies to disclose the company's policies for considering diversity when hiring board members, including women, and leading companies have begun to include a matrix of Board skills and diversity in their proxies. However, Maloney's bill takes things a step further with an eye on the factors cited in the study which serve as roadblocks to women board representation. Accordingly, Maloney's bill would create a separate reporting requirement for which detail the company's strategies for recruiting more women into board and executive roles. Additionally, the bill also asks the SEC to recommend ways that companies can boost the number of women on their boards.
In a January 4th letter to SEC Chair White, Maloney notes that "Investors are justly interested in more comprehensive information about board composition and policies to ensure a diverse slate of candidates." There has been a notable push by investors, both mainstream and socially-oriented seeking greater board diversity overall, of which gender is one component, as is expertise. Efforts to increase women board representation have been implemented in EU countries, and several groups in the US have been at work to help ensure the promotion of female board candidates.