From the Illinois News Network:
Black business leaders push for gender, racial quotas for public corporate boards in Illinois
Lawmakers are pushing Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other legislators to pass legislation setting gender and race requirement for public corporations.
The bill would require all publicly-traded companies headquartered in Illinois to have at least one African American and one person who identifies as a woman on their boards or face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for each day they’re out of compliance.
State Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, called the legislation a step toward parity for African-Americans and women.
“We support House Bill 3394 because it’s our time and it’s our turn,” he said. “Let us in the room and give us our seat at the table.”
He was joined by black business leaders and public officials Tuesday in Chicago to urge state senators and Pritzker to support the legislation.
Welch succeeded in passing the bill in the House earlier this month, albeit by the narrowest of margins.
The language of the bill would not allow any leeway for companies becoming public, something that Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers says is the right thing to do.
“Saying that your C-suite and your board should be more diverse and you should have more diverse insights and opinions to help your company flourish is equally an important part of the process,” he said.
Similar legislation in California could be challenged under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution once it’s implemented in 2020.
Welch discounted a similar legal issue should his bill be enacted and eventually implemented in 2021. He dared any public corporation to put its reputation on the line to challenge his legislation.
“I don’t know if that would do well for their brands,” he said.
Other races weren’t included in the bill. That could hamper the bill’s passage in the state Senate, where the fate of the bill could hinge on convincing the chamber’s Latino Caucus to support a measure that omits people of Hispanic origin.
Welch said he wouldn’t add other racial minorities to the legislation.
“This bill is very intentional,” he said. “When you look at corporate boards across the state, everyone is in the room except African Americans.”