Reporting on Female Representation on California Boards

December 18, 2020

Thanks to SB826, the California law that mandates female representation at the board level, just 2.3% of public companies with headquarters in California have no female board members. In 2018, close to 30% of these companies had male-only boards.

Many companies must further increase the number of women at board level to meet the next phase of requirements. The requirements coming into effect on December 31, 2021 are:

(1) Corporations with six or more directors must have a minimum of three female directors.

(2) Corporations with five directors must have a minimum of two female directors.

(3) Corporations with four or fewer directors must have at least one female director.

These requirements are in addition to the diversity requirements in AB 979, which we outlined in an earlier Weekly Brief.


Why is female representation important for California Boards?

“Research has shown us that companies with women on the board of directors outperform those without them. Women directors are more effective at managing risk, better able to balance long-term priorities, and have a keen sense of what customers, shareholders, and employees need to thrive” – Claim Your Seat: A Progress Report on Women’s Representation on California Corporate Boards (Progress Report).

Having women on company boards also leads to better workforce engagement and improved business performance, according to the Progress Report. So, while the business case is strong for increased female representation at the decision-making level within California, there are some barriers to this occurring.

We recently prepared a blog post about solving female attorney attrition using holistic promotion standards. While the post was written in the context of today’s law firm, many of the lessons can be applied more broadly. Here’s how:

Rethink your standards for promotion

Promotion standards that reward the number of hours a worker spends warming their chair over qualities like creativity, collaboration, client outcomes, and customer satisfaction need to be reconsidered. Prioritizing quality over quantity is crucial for businesses going forward.

Create a space that works for diverse workers

For us, the data about female representation improving business outcomes for public corporations comes as no surprise. Where businesses make space for diverse workers, they also make space for innovation, creativity, and compromise. Diverse workers have diverse priorities, qualities, and experiences. All of which pave the way for more holistic thinking and better business ideas.

To attract these diverse workers, businesses need to create flexible workplaces that work for team members from differing backgrounds. Flexible schedules, off-site work options, and holistic promotion standards are a good starting point for businesses looking to increase female representation at the board level.

Today, only 30% of public companies with headquarters in California have already met the gender requirement that comes into effect on December 31, 2021. That means 70% of publicly traded companies will need to increase female representation over the next 12 months.


If your business is one of them, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help!


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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