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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Rep. Fenton-Fung introduces bill requiring women on boards of publicly held corporations
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung (R-Dist. 15, Cranston) has introduced with significant bipartisan support legislation (
) requiring publicly held corporations in Rhode Island to include women on their board of directors.
Based on landmark legislation passed in California in 2018, the bill helps to locally address global concerns about gender inequity on boards. According to a 2020 Spencer Stuart analysis, 72 percent of board directors in the United States are men, with more severe gender imbalances noted in the healthcare, energy, and IT sectors.(1) Multi-year studies of American corporations noted that even more significant inequality existed for women of color. (2)
There are significant benefits to these businesses when they diversify. Findings out of Europe noted that increasing the number of women on boards is positively related to higher financial performance.(3) In Korea, having female directors also correlated with higher corporate social responsibility performance.(4)
The legislation would get the ball rolling by mandating that each applicable business have at least one female director by January 2022, increasing to a minimum of three (for boards of six or more individuals) by January 2023, with financial penalties for non-compliance.
Representative Fenton-Fung noted, "While I believe the suffragists would be proud of the glass ceilings women have shattered in the past decade, so much more work needs to be done. Female inclusion in the boardroom has been frustratingly slow, and we shouldn't settle for crumbs when we deserve an equal slice of the pie."
The bill has been referred to the House Corporations Committee.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
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