New York (United States)
From our correspondent
Is the reign of 50-year-old white men on boards coming to an end? Since September 2020, California requires companies listed on the stock exchange, and whose management offices are located in its territory, to reserve at least one seat for an individual from a ” under-represented community »(Black, Latino, Native American, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual…). If they do not comply by the end of the year, they will have to pay a fine of at least $ 100,000.
In 2017, the state ratified a similar law on the presence of women. With spectacular results: in two years, the number of all-male boards of directors has fallen from 180 to 15. Legal proceedings against these provisions deemed discriminatory by their opponents have not prevented a dozen other states from following the law. same way.
For its part, the Nasdaq now requires most companies listed on its market to include a minimum number of women and individuals ” from diversity In their boards of directors. Otherwise, they will have to justify themselves.
Validated in August by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the policeman of the Stock Exchange, this new policy also requires them to publish statistics on the gender, sexual orientation and race of their directors. “ Companies understand that they need to diversify their governing bodies to capture new markets and reflect the increasingly diverse American population. », Explains Paul Washington, director of the ESG Center, a think tank specializing in corporate governance.
The composition of boards of directors is a long-standing struggle in the United States. After women, the focus is now on groups marginalized on the basis of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability. There is still work to be done. A year after the death of George Floyd highlighted the low presence of minorities in economic power circles, the share of non-whites has increased only slightly among new directors (+0.2 points for only African Americans since 2020). These figures come from a recent study by the research organization The Conference board on the S&P 500 and the Russell 3000, indices that include the largest companies in the country.
For Paul Washington, regulatory constraints must be taken with a grain of salt. ” Some companies may consider these floor levels to be ceilings. Once their obligations have been fulfilled, they may find that they have no further efforts to make ».