Nasdaq will require public companies to disclose boards’ diversity after SEC approval

The Securities and Trade Fee on Friday permitted Nasdaq’s proposal to require range disclosures for firms’ boards in its itemizing guidelines.

Amongst different issues, the Nasdaq

proposal would ask firms to clarify why they don’t meet race and gender targets for firm boards, which is able to differ relying on the corporate’s dimension and different components. For many firms within the nation, the target can be no less than two “various” board members: one feminine, plus one member of an underrepresented minority group or somebody who identifies as LGBTQ.

It’s the newest effort in a widespread however controversial push for board range that has included laws in California, which was the primary state to mandate range on boards of publicly held firms however is dealing with authorized challenges to the legislation.

See: Since nation’s first law requiring women on boards, the number of female directors at California companies has doubled

Different influential voices within the push embody Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
which final yr mentioned that in 2021 it might solely underwrite IPOs of personal firms which have no less than two “various” board members.

The SEC approval mentioned the Nasdaq proposal would “set up a disclosure-based framework and never a mandate.” In an interview final yr, Nasdaq Chief Government Adena Friedman known as it “a comply-or-explain rule.”

The approval notes that in response to the Nasdaq proposal, an organization that doesn’t need to meet range goals nor clarify why “might switch its itemizing to a competing itemizing change.” However the proposal additionally gives flexibility and time for firms to clarify themselves, the SEC factors out.

See additionally: America’s most prestigious corporate boards are still being filled by mostly white men

Republicans on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee opposed the Nasdaq proposal, and rating member Pat Toomey, R-Pa., mentioned in a press release Friday that “By defining range by race, gender, and sexual orientation, Nasdaq’s mandate will inevitably strain firms to subordinate essential components equivalent to information, expertise, and experience when choosing board members.”

Bonnie Hagemann, co-founder of WomenExecs on Boards, instructed MarketWatch on Friday that it’s a “misnomer” that critics of the range push say that diversifying a board means reducing requirements.

“It truly forces us to search out somebody who matches each the standards and who matches range,” Hagemann mentioned, including that WomenExecs on Boards is a community made up of Republicans, Democrats and extra, and that she herself is a Republican.

She mentioned progress on gender equality in boardrooms has been “extraordinarily sluggish,” and that she hopes different influential organizations observe Nasdaq’s instance.

For extra: S&P 500 companies that performed better during the pandemic had diverse boards in common

Nasdaq’s proposal additionally goals to ascertain constant and comparable range statistics, which it thinks will likely be helpful to traders.

“These guidelines will permit traders to achieve a greater understanding of Nasdaq-listed firms’ strategy to board range, whereas making certain that these firms have the flexibleness to make selections that finest serve their shareholders,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler mentioned in a press release. | Nasdaq would require public firms to reveal boards’ range after SEC approval


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