Governor Brown Signs Senate Bill 826

WE DID IT! Governor Brown signed SB826 that amends the California Corporations Code to require public companies headquartered in California to have a minimum number of female directors on their board of directors.

This is groundbreaking news and Women Serve on Boards is extremely proud and excited to have helped with the efforts to move the needle on gender equity. California is the first state to pass any kind of legislation requiring women to serve on boards of directors. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who authored the bill, states that “a fourth of publicly held corporations with headquarters in California don’t have any women on their boards of directors. These companies have not done enough to increase the number of women on their boards despite the Legislature’s urging, making government intervention necessary.”

Some further details on the historic bill include the following:

SB 826 requires that, by no later than the end of 2019, all publicly held domestic and foreign corporations whose principal executive offices are located in California and whose shares are listed on a major United States stock exchange (Public Companies) must have a minimum of one female director. According to SB 826, “female” means an individual that self-identifies as a woman, without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.

By the end of 2021, Public Companies must meet the following additional board requirements (the Board Requirements):

  1. If a Public Company’s number of directors is six or more, the Public Company must have a minimum of three female directors;
  2. If a Public Company’s number of directors is five, the Public Company must have a minimum of two female directors; and
  3. If a Public Company’s number of directors is four or fewer, the Public Company must have a minimum of one female director1.

SB 826 authorizes the California Secretary of State to impose fines for any violation of these requirements.