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SEC Chair Pushes for Increased Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards

Speaking at a global conference on women in Washington, D.C. this week, Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) chair Mary Jo White criticized the lack of women in boardrooms. In her remarks, White expressed frustration at the slow progress of gender diversity among corporate boardrooms and top management. Despite companies using mandatory quotas and other efforts to increase the representation of women on boards, White does not believe such methods are the best answer to boosting diversity.

Citing recent data numbers and research, White said increased board diversity creates stronger boards since women have a higher understanding of employee and customer perspectives, use cooperation and collaboration more often, and are more consistent in making fair decisions. She also referenced academic studies that have shown women directors can affect a company’s stock.

Regarding the influence of shareholders on the matter, White mentioned some investors express disappointment by some companies’ low quality of disclosures, and it is the shared responsibility of shareholders and prospective stakeholders to seek change on corporate boards and promote diversity. Additionally, White commented that companies must also put in the extra effort to address diversity issues and commit to identifying qualified women for their boards.

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