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Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill

Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Bankers Association, the Real Estate Roundtable and others called on the Senate to pass legislation that would require public companies to disclose the racial, ethnic and gender composition of their boards and executive officers.

In a letter sent Monday to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Sweeping COVID-19, spending deal hits speed bumps McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return MORE (R-Idaho) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownPortman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all Portman won't run for reelection Hawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators MORE (Ohio), the trade organizations said this legislation would organically boost diversity on boards through disclosure. 

“Our associations and members support efforts to increase gender, racial, and ethnic diversity on corporate boards of directors, as diversity has become increasingly important to institutional investors, pension funds, and other stakeholders,” the groups wrote.

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The House passed the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksBiden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots MORE (D-N.Y.), in November and the Senate has not acted on the legislation.

The bill would require issuers of securities to submit disclosure forms about their boards and executives, including if any of them are veterans, in their proxy statements and to disclose the adoption of any board policy or strategy to promote diversity.

“According to PwC’s 2019 Annual Corporate Directors Survey, 94% of board directors surveyed indicated that a diverse board brings unique perspectives, 87% responded that diversity enhances board performance, and 84% responded that it improves relationships with investors,” the groups wrote.

Other groups on the letter include the Bank Policy Institute, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Association of Investment Companies, Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Black Chamber of Commerce and TechNet, among others.