Chamber backs Dem bill for more women on corporate boards

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The nation’s leading business group is backing legislation that would create a diversity advisory group within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to get more women on corporate boards.

In a letter to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it supports the Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act she introduced last week to increase gender diversity on boards of directors.

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"The bill’s goal of promoting gender diversity in the boardroom of American businesses reflects the reality that women, who historically have been statistically underrepresented among corporate boards of directors, possess invaluable insights, experiences, and management skills that can and should be deployed to support the corporate goals of our nation’s producers, innovators and employers,” Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president of governmental affairs said in the letter to Maloney on Wednesday.

The legislation would require a corporation to report the gender composition of its board to the SEC. It would also establish an advisory group within the SEC tasked with studying and issuing a report on gender diversity among corporate directors. 

“Today’s gender diversity efforts should focus on ideas to increase the participation of women in the boardroom organically,” Josten said in his letter. “Some jurisdictions have attempted to achieve diversity through quotas which have been counterproductive to the ultimate goal.”

In January, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study showing women held just 16 percent of seats in corporate boardrooms. Maloney had requested the figures in May 2014. 

“If we do nothing, we won’t reach gender parity on corporate boards for at least another 40 years,” Maloney said in a statement. “It’s time for women, government, and corporate America to work together in addressing this problem."