Overnight Regulation: GAO faults corporate boards on diversity

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Monday evening here in Washington and we're happy to be back. Here's to a peaceful and productive new year. 



Women are severely underrepresented on corporate boards, taking up just 16 percent of seats in the boardroom, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Monday. 

The report, which Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-.N.Y.) requested in May 2014, found that it would take until 2024 for women to approach parity with men in the boardroom if every future board vacancy were filled by a woman.


Based on interviews with stakeholders, board director data, and relevant literature, GAO said it identified various factors that may hinder women's increased representation among board directors. Those include boards not making the recruiting of diverse candidates a priority; few women in the traditional pipeline to board service -- with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or board experience; and a low turnover of board seats.

As a result of the study, Maloney wrote a letter calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to update its diversity disclosure requirements, so that corporations have to report each board nominee's gender, race and ethnicity.

The World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report for 2015 shows the United States dropped eight places from 20th to 28th, and today's GAO report provides yet another example of just how large the gap has grown," she said in a news release. "We lag far behind many other industrialized countries that have taken proactive steps to improve diversity."

In her letter to SEC Chair Mary Jo White, Maloney said only 19.2 percent of S&P 500 board seats were held by women in 2014 and only 12 companies, 2.4 percent, had boards comprised of at least 40 percent women. 

"These figures indicate the real barriers still in place between women and these corporate leadership positions, and highlight a need for policies to encourage greater board diversity," she said.



The House Rules Committee will hold a hearing on several regulatory reform bills. http://1.usa.gov/1JTUJ1J



The Obama administration will publish 129 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

--The Department of Transportation (DOT) will delay new rules for airlines.

The Transportation Department last month announced it is looking into new protections for airline passengers with disabilities. But it is now extending the comment period to give the public more time to discuss the rules.

The negotiated rulemaking would address "inflight entertainment, supplemental medical oxygen, service animals, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, seating accommodations, and carrier reporting of disability service requests," the agency noted.

The public has until Jan. 21 to comment. http://bit.ly/1kGnQ1T

--The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will issue new rules for smartphones to "ensure that people with hearing loss have full access to innovative handsets and technologies."

The new hearing aid compatibility rules go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1Jq3VQB

--The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will delay new protections for several animals from American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean.

The FWS proposed last October to list two types of American Samoan land snails, a distinct segment of friendly ground-doves, the Pacific sheath-tailed bat and the mao, a bird, as endangered species. But it is now reopening the comment period to give the public more time to discuss.

The public now has an additional 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1mBpnaE



Dem senator: GOP can't block Obama gun action http://bit.ly/1Jq4EkH

Ryan: Obama 'subverting' Congress with gun actions http://bit.ly/1O71zCS

Study: Tarmac delay rules leading to more flight cancellations http://bit.ly/1n0BD4Y

US authorities begin raids, taking 121 illegal immigrants into custody over the weekend – The Washington Post http://wapo.st/1MC5Wo2

U.S. sues Volkswagen over emissions scandal – The Wall Street Journal http://on.wsj.com/1VCBsIS

As justices weigh affirmative action, Michigan offers an alternative – The New York Times http://nyti.ms/1OHNJWL



40: Percent of women SEC hopes to see on Fortune 1000 and S&P 500 corporate boards by 2025.

19.2: Percent of S&P 500 board seats held by women in 2014.



"We all are pained by the recent atrocities in our country, but no change the president is reportedly considering would have prevented them," House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBooker prepping for first 2020 debate with bicep curls Democratic debates: What the top candidates need to do Paul Ryan praises Trump: 'He's not taking any crap' MORE (R-Wis.) on President Obama's planned executive action on guns. Ryan called the actions an "overreach" of executive power.


We’ll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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