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Letters to the Editor: Companies had their chance to diversify board rooms. They failed

A man in a suit and tie gestures
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first state law in the nation requiring that women sit on corporate boards of publicly traded companies.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: In his recent column regarding the law requiring California companies to place women on their corporate boards of directors, Nicholas Goldberg claims to be a supporter of diversity but calls the law “an unnecessary overreach.” He ignores that for years, companies had been pressed to end discrimination against women in the board room to no avail.

In 2013, the state Legislature enacted a resolution urging California companies to voluntarily add women to their mostly male boards of directors. Three years later the woefully low number of board seats held by women (only 16%) had barely budged. This inaction precipitated the enactment of Senate Bill 826.

The results have been impressive, with women now occupying 32% of board seats in California. More than 2,000 women were named to corporate boards in this state over the last three years.

Overreach? No way. The history leading up to the law proves otherwise. Goldberg says that companies need to be “convinced” that diversity will be good for them, rather than being subjected to a law. Many companies are already committed to having women on boards.

But 26% still need to comply and are unlikely to be “convinced” by anything other than a law.

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Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, Los Angeles

The writer is chief executive of the group 50/50 Women on Boards.

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To the editor: Robin Abcarian leaves me a little speechless with her column defending corporate board quotas. Businesses have enough to worry about with inflation, California’s regulations and a possible recession just to survive. Now, Abcarian will set their priorities.

That is contrary to just about everything America stands for and a huge violation of basic freedom.

Abcarian calls the law, recently overturned by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, a success. Well, a law requiring everyone to wear green on Thursday may be a success by the same logic, but it’s still wrong.

Abcarian implies that having more women on corporate boards is better for business. If that were true, companies that resist would fail without any law. She also claims, “Equal numbers result in equal treatment,” which is nonsense when we see natural diversity throughout society.

Let’s keep ours a free society without so many mini-dictators running around, keeping score and dictating compliance.

William N. Hoke, Manhattan Beach


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