Nasdaq steps into 21st century by requiring women and minorities on corporate boards

Nasdaq has just put its money where its mouth is by proposing to require its listed companies to have at least two “diverse” directors, including at least one woman and one minority or LGBTQ director, or face being kicked off the exchange.



a close up of a sign: Nasdaq is proposing to force listed companies to diversify their boards. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)


© (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)
Nasdaq is proposing to force listed companies to diversify their boards. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

What’s most interesting about the proposal, which was submitted Tuesday to the Securities and Exchange Commission, isn’t that it’s radical in its reach.

It’s that the proposal recognizes the emerging reality in American industry, which is that resistance to diversity has been evaporating for years.

Nasdaq’s purpose is to champion inclusive growth and prosperity to power stronger economies.

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman

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Large consumer and technology companies have been among the leaders in the trend. CNN calculates that four of the five largest companies on Nasdaq, measured by market value “have boards on which straight white men are in the minority. They are Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (the parent of Google) and Facebook.

Those companies plainly recognize that diverse boards are good for their bottom line, for their public image and for their standing in the investment community. In its proposal, Nasdaq observed that most large institutional investors have been pressuring corporate managements for more diverse boards.

Goldman Sachs, one of the leading underwriters of corporate stock offerings, said in January that it won’t take a company public unless it has at least one woman or minority director. By 2021, the minimum will be two directors.

And California has imposed mandatory diversity standards on companies headquartered within its borders. The state has required public companies based in the state to have at least one woman director as of the end of last year and as many as three by the end of 2021.

A new law signed by Gov. Newsom this year requires those companies to have at least one minority or LGBTQ director by the end of 2021 and as many as three by the end of 2022.

No other states have followed suit, possibly because they’re waiting for the outcomes of at least two lawsuits challenging California’s gender diversity law. But there are indications that the law has spurred California-based companies to step up their recruitment of women directors.

In its rule proposal, Nasdaq cited academic studies finding that gender-diverse boards are associated with lower likelihood of manipulated earnings or other corporate wrongdoing, including securities fraud.

Much of corporate America certainly seems to have moved past its traditional resistance to diversifying the boardroom.

That attitude was exemplified by T.J. Rodgers, the founder and then-chairman of Cypress Semiconductor, who in a famous 1996 missive rebuffed one Sister Doris Gormley, a shareholder advocate at a Franciscan order in Pennsylvania, who told him the diversity of Cypress’ all-male board had been found wanting.

Rodgers, whose stubbornness was legendary, told the nun to “get down from your moral high horse.” Cypress depended on its directors to contribute

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Nasdaq Pushes To Require Corporate Boards To Add More Women And Minorities : NPR

A Nasdaq sign in Times Square in New York promotes an upcoming listing on Aug. 5, 2020. Nasdaq said it will push for a rule requiring listed companies to include at least one woman and one minority or LGBTQ+ person. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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A Nasdaq sign in Times Square in New York promotes an upcoming listing on Aug. 5, 2020. Nasdaq said it will push for a rule requiring listed companies to include at least one woman and one minority or LGBTQ+ person. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Mark Lennihan/AP

Nasdaq wants to require the more than 3,000 companies listed on its stock exchange to improve boardroom diversity by appointing at least one woman and at least one minority or LGBTQ+ person to their boards.

Companies would have to report regularly on how many women and minorities sit on their boards and then follow that up by appointing at least one member of each group, under a rule submitted today to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We believe this listing rule is one step in a broader journey to achieve inclusive representation across corporate America,” said Adena Friedman, president and CEO of NASDAQ, in the statement from the exchange.

Women and minorities are still badly underrepresented in the citadels of corporate power, and three-quarters of listed companies would not currently meet the new diversity standards, according to Nasdaq.

But that is slowly changing.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill requiring companies headquartered in the state to have at least one minority on their boards, while Goldman Sachs has said it won’t take a company public unless at least one minority group member sits on its board.

Boardroom diversity requirements have been standard in some European countries for years. Norway introduced gender quotas in 2003, while Iceland, Spain and France require women to fill 40% of supervisory board seats.

Germany is the largest economy to impose quotas, requiring at least 30% of board seats to be filled by women.

“Corporate diversity, at all levels, opens up a clear path to innovation and growth. We are inspired by the support from our issuers and the financial community with this effort and look forward to working together with companies of all sizes to create stronger and more inclusive boards,” said Nelson Griggs, president of the exchange.

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‘Comply or Explain’ Rule Gets More Women on Canadian Boards

(Bloomberg) — It turns out the best way to get more women on corporate boards may be to use a floodlight.

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Regulators began requiring companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange to disclose the number of women they have in senior roles, along with their plans to improve diversity, six years ago.

At the time, 67% of the 100 largest public companies in Canada had at least one woman among their directors. As of May this year that had increased to 96%, according to a study by KPMG LLP.

Canada’s “comply or explain” approach was a major driver, according to Doron Melnick, a KPMG partner who wrote the report. Still, there’s more to be done.

“Corporate Canada has to continue the change and the changes are needed not just in the boards,” Melnick said. “It’s just as important to focus on the level of top management.”

Men continue to outpace women at a rate of almost two-to-one for board positions and three-to-one for chief executive officer posts, according to the study. During the six-year period, 173 women were appointed to board seats — including some appointments to multiple boards — and 108 became CEOs of Canada’s largest companies. That compared to 332 men added to boards and 339 men appointed as CEOs.

Men who first became senior executives at their company during the period also advanced more quickly, with almost half ending up in C-suite positions compared with 39% of women. Only 2% of those women climbed to the top job.

In October, Rania Llewellyn became the first woman ever to lead one of Canada’s eight largest domestic banks.



chart: Female Chiefs


© Bloomberg
Female Chiefs

While a number of concerns have been raised about unintended consequences of the comply or explain rule — the biggest being that companies would promote underqualified women to be “token” directors or appoint insiders — that’s not supported by the data, Melnick said.

And as women are also cutting back their hours more sharply than men during Covid-19, this study is “a call to action to redouble efforts in this area,” he said.

“We are in a crisis and we’re very worried about losing momentum,” Melnick said. “We’re worried about a plateau, or possibly a drop, setting back the cause of gender diversity.”

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Beauty Charcuterie Boards Are a Thing Now

Nowadays, you can find inspiration for almost any type of charcuterie board you please. Hot-chocolate charcuterie boards? Check. Breakfast charcuterie boards? Done. Charcuterie boards for your pets? No problem. And now, people are making beauty charcuterie boards, too, and they’re almost as magical and mesmerizing as the edible versions.

Some people are filling their decorative boards with makeup palettes, tubes of skin care, and beautiful glass jars filled with whipped textures that mimic a bowl of creamy dip, while Bath & Body Works created its own self-care charcuterie board complete with a lit candle. It’s like a product flatlay but with a nod to the delicious creations we’re seeing all over our Instagram and Pinterest feeds this year.

Check out a few of the best beauty charcuterie boards ahead.

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Germany requires companies put women on executive boards

  • On Friday, the German coalition government agreed to a new rule that companies with more than three board members must ensure one of those members is a woman.
  • The rule also states companies in which the German government has a stake will require 30% of its board to be female.
  • The rule reverses a voluntary system established in 2015 that some said failed to achieve gender equality.
  • Franziska Giffey, Germany’s federal minister for women called the move “historic.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Germany’s government is rolling out a new standard that will require companies listed on the stock market to have a certain number of women on their boards. Companies with three board members must have one of them be a woman. And companies in which the federal government has a stake will require 30% of executive boards to be female. 

The rule was agreed upon on Friday by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats. It’s similar to a system the country established in 2015 that called on companies to voluntarily increase boardroom diversity. But progressives argued, that because the system was voluntary it failed to achieve gender equality. 

This new mandatory quota will boost diversity in Germany’s corporate sector, and might even encourage lawmakers in other countries to follow suit. A number of countries have similar quotas, including France, Norway, Israel, Austria, India, and Italy. Research from management consulting company EgonZehnder found that countries with quotas were more likely to have significant boardroom diversity than countries without quotas. 

Researchers at McKinsey & Co. found that companies with more gender and ethnic diversity among top executives were up to 33% more likely to see above average profits.

Women make up about 13% of the management boards of the 30 largest German companies listed on the Dax index, per a September survey by the independent nonprofit AllBright foundation that was reported on in the Guardian.  

That’s compared to 28.6% in the US, 24.5% in the UK and 22.2% in France, the study showed. 

In a statement, Franziska Giffey, Germany’s federal minister for women, said: “This one breakthrough is historic. We are putting an end to women-free boardrooms in large companies. We are setting an example for a sustainable, modern society.”

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Germany will require companies to put women executives on their boards

Germany’s coalition government has agreed to a mandatory quota for women on the boards of listed companies in what’s being hailed as a landmark moment for Europe’s biggest economy.



a young boy looking at the camera: 18 November 2020, Berlin: Franziska Giffey (SPD), Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, is waiting for the debate to begin before the adoption of the amendment to the Infection Protection Act, the law to protect the population in the event of an epidemic situation of national importance. The law will adopt far-reaching measures to enable government action in a situation like the Corona pandemic. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa (Photo by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)


© Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty Images
18 November 2020, Berlin: Franziska Giffey (SPD), Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, is waiting for the debate to begin before the adoption of the amendment to the Infection Protection Act, the law to protect the population in the event of an epidemic situation of national importance. The law will adopt far-reaching measures to enable government action in a situation like the Corona pandemic. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa (Photo by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Listed companies with management boards of more than three executives must appoint at least one woman to the C-suite, according to a statement Friday by Germany’s ministry for family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth. A final decision on the new measure is expected next week.

“We are putting an end to women-free boardrooms at large companies,” said Franziska Giffey, the minister for women and families, who described the decision as a “historic breakthrough.”

Janina Kugel, the former chief human resources officer at Siemens, was among several prominent women leaders and campaigners in Germany who welcomed the news. Jutta Allmendinger, president of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, said the decision was “historic.”

But business lobby groups pushed back on the decision. The Federation of German Industries (BDI), which represents 40 trade groups, said it supports efforts to encourage the appointment of women to leadership positions, but added that a fixed board quota is “a major intervention in entrepreneurial freedom.”

“The tendency to try to rectify socio-political problems through the economy and companies must in no way become the rule,” BDI executive board member Iris Plöger said in a statement. “Politicians should rather show greater courage in tackling the reasons why there are so few women on company boards,” she added, pointing to the need to expand digital infrastructure “to make it easier for everyone to balance work and family life.”



a man wearing a suit and tie: Jutta Allmendinger, President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center.


© David Ausserhofer/WZB
Jutta Allmendinger, President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center.

Plöger said companies should be given “as long as possible” to comply with the new measures and should be protected against sanctions where it is “not practically possible” to meet the requirements.

Germany lags several major economies when it comes to the proportion of senior executive positions held by women. According to the Swedish-German Allbright Foundation, a nonprofit, women make up just 12.8% of the management boards of Germany’s 30 largest listed companies.

By comparison, women have been hired for 28.6% of the senior leadership roles at leading companies in the United States, 24.9% in Sweden, 24.5% in Britain and 22.2% in France.

None of Germany’s biggest companies are led by women, according to the Allbright Foundation. And it appears the country is going backwards when it comes to gender diversity: The number of women on the management boards of companies

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8 Ways To Position Women For Corporate Boards

When Jocelyn Mangan brought her 20 years of experience as a top tech executive, including at OpenTable and Ticketmaster, to serve as a new board member of Papa John’s International, she joined the ranks of a select group: women on corporate boards. Only 20% of the top 3,000 publicly-traded companies have women on their board, according to Bizwomen.com. (Papa John’s board is an exception at 40% women.)

There are reams of data on how having women on a corporate board drives performance across all metrics, including financial performance and safety, yet the challenge persists and is particularly urgent today. 

As we continue to fight against the coronavirus, having women on a company’s board can be literally a matter of life and death, as a recent ground-breaking study of 4,271 medical products (e.g., vaccines, treatments and stents) across 94 companies revealed.  It found that medical products companies with fewer than two women on their board might not pull a product that has been determined by the FDA to be life-threateningly defective off the market for 28 days. Think about how many people could die from that defective vaccine, treatment or stent over those 28 days.  For perspective, in the 28 days from September 23rd to October 22nd, 20,310 people died in the U.S. from Covid-19, according to data collected from local and state sources by the New York Times.

Momentum is building for more women on boards

In 2018 there were two pivotal developments pushing the needle towards more women on boards.  One is, the world’s largest money manager, BlackRock called for at least two women on boards of companies it invests in.

Secondly, California passed SB-826 requiring California-based publicly-traded companies to have at least one woman on their board or face a $100,000 fine. The law declares that, “More women directors serving on boards of directors of publicly held corporations will boost the California economy, improve opportunities for women in the workplace, and protect California taxpayers, shareholders, and retirees,” and cited several studies to support its case.  

What can you do to get on a board?

To figure out what the logjam was with landing women on boards, Mangan interviewed about 90 men about how boards find new directors. What she found out was that “without a doubt it’s not a pipeline issue, it’s a network gap,” as she told me recently on my podcast. To do something about that gap, she founded the nonprofit Him For Her to foster relationships between boards and board-ready women.

Here are 8 tips for how women can position themselves for the board pipeline from my conversation with Mangan:

1. Get in the networks of male

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