Some 165 California-based publicly traded companies without any female directors will have to find one or more by the end of 2019 under a bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
The push to get more women in the boardroom doesn’t stop there. The law requires a company with five directors to have at least two female members by 2021. If a board has six or more directors, three will have to be women — a threshold many of the state’s giants including Facebook Inc. and Tesla Inc. don’t currently meet.
Among the all-male boards, though, most are much smaller. Many are in the technology and biotechnology industries.
“We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking we’re making progress by focusing on the biggest companies,” said Coco Brown, chief executive officer of the Athena Alliance, which advocates for gender diversity in the boardroom. “We’ve totally ignored the long tail.”
On average, the boards of the biggest companies — $100 billion and up — are about 25 percent women, Brown said. At firms with a market value under $1 billion, it’s 11 percent. For private companies, which don’t face shareholder pressures, fewer than 9 percent of the board members are female, on average
If the California companies with all-male boards are thinking about how they might comply with a new law, most aren’t eager to talk about it publicly. Only two of the 10 biggest companies without women on their boards responded to a request for comment. Of two dozen companies reached for comment in total, only four responded.
Masimo Corp., an Irvine-based company that makes patient-monitoring products, is one of those companies. While it currently doesn’t have a female board member, it has had female directors in the past.
“We consider a number of different factors in assessing potential director candidates, including background, experience and capabilities, in each case based on the then-current needs of the board and its committees and the company generally,” Chief Executive Officer Joe Kiani said in a statement. “We’ve recently been interviewing additional well-qualified board member candidates, including women, and are always looking for the best people to guide Masimo.”