Comstock's magazine 0319 - March 2019 - Page 68

n WOMEN ON BOARDS T o understand how California’s corporate boards have changed, one local research project is both a yardstick and a symbol. In 2005, UC Davis Grad- uate School of Management researchers began looking at the participation of women in cor- porate leadership at the largest publicly traded companies headquartered in the state. The first year that the study included a comparable num- ber of companies across years was 2006. That year, women held fewer than 9 percent of board seats at the 400 companies assessed. By 2015, that had grown to more than 13 percent. Were that rate to hold, women would reach parity on those boards in 2099. But the school won’t be tracking that evolution if it hap- pens: 2015 would be the last year of the project. Over the years, no donor had stepped forward to cover the $15,000 cost.  The faculty who strongly supported it had moved on, and school leaders were concerned that the results weren’t peer reviewed. But there was another reason, says Donald Palmer, a GSM professor who managed the project until 2013: “Year in and year out, the results looked pretty much the same,” he says. “At some point, it ceased to be news.” Senate Bill 826, passed easily by the state Legislature in August 2018, aims to change that. By January 2020, publicly traded companies headquartered in California must have a minimum of one woman on their boards of directors and two or three by January 2022, depending on board size. The pen- alties for not complying are serious: $100,000 on the first of- fense and $300,000 for the second and subsequent violations. The law drew national attention, praised by advocates of gender diversity in corporate leadership. Of the 621 state-headquartered companies that are also traded on ma- jor stock exchanges, 29 percent have all-male boards, ac- cording to research from San Diego’s Board Governance Re- search. That pencils out to 1,060 seats that need to be filled by women by 2022. However, a potential legal challenge to the law could drop that number to at most 208, according to research from Stanford University’s Rock Center for Cor- porate Governance (see sidebar, page 71). Regardless of the numbers, getting into position to be invited onto a corporate board is a steep road for any executive. So how do qualified women rise to the top? It won’t be easy. WHY BOARD SEATS ARE HARD TO LAND In 2009, Kim Box left Hewlett-Packard, where she’d spent 19 years leading technology teams — her last role was vice president of global IT services. (She’s currently president and CEO of Gatekeeper Innovation, where she’s been since LIVE CONFIDENTLY! “Complete planning for your life and your future, not just investments. WESTLAKE, GRAHL, AND GLOVER A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. 9265 Sierra College Blvd. | Granite Bay, CA 95746 │ 916.677.1640 WESTLAKE, GRAHL, AND GLOVER. A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. The Compass is a trademark of Ameriprise Financial, Inc. Investment advisory services and products are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., a registered investment advisor. 1404507ACMR1118 70 | March 2019 That’s where we come in.”