Posted by Frank J. Frasco.
For decades upon decades, the debate of women in the workforce had been a strong debate, a once disregarded topic that was controlled and ignored by the patriarchal society that was once America before the 19th amendment. However, with more and more women having full-time, career jobs, there has been a continued struggle for women to be allowed in higher, more official standings within a company no matter the qualifications, which may be equal to or even higher than that of their male competitor.
Well, the state of California has seen enough. Recently, on September 30th, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that puts the Golden State as the first state to require publicly traded companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors, states NPR reporter Laurel Wamsley. The companies whose official executive headquarters are located in California will need to conform to this demand by the end of next year or face fines of $100,000. Which companies will these effect? The question really should be, which companies won’t these effect? According to last year’s Fortune 500 list, 53 out of the 500 very successful corporations are within the west coast state, which includes powerhouses such as Apple, Alphabet (Google), Disney, HP, Gap, Visa, EBay, just to name a few. According to Wamsley, within the law companies will have a minimum of two female directors if it has five directors on its board, or three women if it has seven directors by the close of 2021. Will these numbers increase if a company has more than seven on an executive profile? Take technology juggernaut Apple for example. Their leadership of eleven members only has two women on the board. So, should Apple be forced to add at least two additional female members to create more equality within an industry that typically comes across as masculine? It will be interesting to see.
State senators Hannah Beth-Jackson and Toni Atkins had enough with unfair, unethical business treatment and were the key sponsors of the bill. And they have facts to justify their frustrations, as television station KQED reports that a quarter of the 445 publicly traded companies in the politically progressive state don’t have a single woman on their boards. The dichotomy is near shocking. Of course, there was backlash, as California’s Chamber of Commerce as well as over twenty-five business groups opposed the bill in their letter to the senate pleading it was “unconstitutional”. However, it was the frightening, plain, old facts again that helped Senators Beth-Jackson and Atkins win their argument. One of them, the fact that only five percent of the companies that are traded on the Standard & Poor’s 500 have female CEOs, brought hesitation to the adversaries.
It is safe to say that this has been a hot topic in recent news outlets, ranging from political shows to obvious business channels such as CNBC. However, what this law, signed by Governor Brown less than a month ago, provides is hope. Hope for women in conservative states such as Mississippi and North Dakota to understand that progress in the workforce is truly happening, and that the 19th amendment will not be the last major amendment to benefit women’s lives.
Frank is a visual and sound media major with a minor in film, business administration minor, at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.