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Chris R. Holden
Assemblyman Chris R. Holden. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill Would Force Companies To Give Board Seats To Minority Candidates

‘It should always be about merit and experience, but under this bill, merit walks’

By Evan Symon, July 16, 2020 4:11 pm

On Tuesday, a bill that would set up mandatory minority quotas on California company board of directors was heavily amended once again as it awaits a hearing in the Assembly.

AB 979 minority quota minimums

Assembly Bill 979, authored by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), would require companies to impose strict minimums on the number of African-American, Hispanic, and Native American board members a company must have. For companies with fewer than 4, then 1 member must come from one of those minority groups. For companies with between 4 and 8 board seats they must have at least 2 minority held seats, with any larger boards than that having at least 3.

Should AB 979 pass, the law would become active in 2022. Any company that fails to comply by then faces large fines from the office of the California Secretary of State.

AB 979 has also been compared to SB 826, a 2018 bill that was passed and signed by former Governor Jerry Brown in which it gives similar mandatory board quotas for women. Many in Sacramento have even noted that AB 979 has almost identical quotas in place.

Support for AB 979

Supporters of the bill have noted that few board members of companies in California are not white or of Asian ancestry. The bill notes that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found that “highly ranked universities graduate African American and Latino computer science and computer engineering majors at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them.” In the same study, the EEOC found that less than 1% of all Silicon Valley executives and managers were African American.

Assemblyman Holden himself has also cited a Harvard study that found that 77% of all new board seats at Fortune 100 companies were given to white candidates.
“Corporations have money, power and influence,” said Assemblyman Holden earlier this month. “If we are going to address racial injustice and inequity in our society, it’s imperative that corporate boards reflect the diversity of our state.

“Corporations with ethnically diverse boards have shown to outperform those that lack diversity.”

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“Soon after the social unrest following the killing of George Floyd, many corporations publicly stated their support for diversity and Black lives. Critics, however, have pointed out that this public support for social justice movements often does not lead to long-term structural change in hiring and retention policies of a diverse staff and leadership.”

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), agreed with Holden on the issue.

“The lack of diversity on California’s boards and upper-level corporate positions is a challenge we urged corporations to address on their own during our time in the Legislature,” said Assemblywoman Garcia. “However, it is clear we can no longer wait for corporations to figure it out on their own. By ensuring diversity on their boards, we know the corporations are more likely to both create opportunities for people of color and give them the support to thrive within that corporation.”

Allegations of discrimination and not fairly choosing the best candidates from AB 979 opposition

Since being heavily amended from the education bill it originally was earlier this year, a large bloc of opposition has come out against the bill.

Charges of reverse discrimination, not allowing the best candidates to receive board seats, and Assemblyman Holden discriminating against other minorities such as Asians and Pacific Islanders (API) have been leveraged against AB 979.

“This bill is despicable,” noted Christina Tan, a Pasadena resident who works in a law firm, in a California Globe interview. “I feel betrayed by voting for Holden last time around. If we’re going to increase minorities in board positions, that should include all minorities, and here he is saying that we don’t deserve that. I can’t believe this.

“He wanted things to be fair for minorities, but now he’s saying that it should be more fair for other minorities. This is straight out of Animal Farm.”

“This just hurts whites, Asians like myself, and others who worked hard to get to these heights but are slammed back from those opportunities.”

“Does he have any decency left?”

Assemblyman Holden has responded to these allegations before in previous statements, but did not confirm API inclusion to AB 979.

“We are having conversations with leadership in the API community to figure out how to address their concerns,” Holden said this week. “AB 979 focuses on African American, Latino and Native American communities as a crucial first step. We took this approach because these communities have difficulty breaking into the white-collar and professional workforce, even though eligible candidates have completed the educational requirements and have the professional maturity to succeed in these industries.”

“We do recognize the glass ceiling for other groups, and will continue these important discussions as it relates to the bill.”

Others have also noted the discrimination concerns of AB 979.

“Jobs should go to the best candidates regardless,” William Clemens, a former board member of two Californian companies, told the Globe. “On boards, we look over everyone who can possibly take on the position. And board members, well, they need to be well-rounded in all facets of the company so everyone can be on the same page or have some working knowledge of every division or department.

“When quotas come into place, that means not having those well rounded candidates and ‘favoriting’ others. It can also mean fast-tracking people through, which companies would need more than a year to do. But that also means rising them above others who are working hard as well.”

“What we’ll see happen if this is passed is we’ll see a few employees, whatever minimum is needed, jump around different places to get the feel, with a few more on standby, so that they can be put in at any time. But it would otherwise be business as usual. That’s how most companies will get around this. Just pick a lucky few who are closest already and make sure they’re in with the company line.”

“It should always be about merit and experience, end of story. But under this bill, merit walks I guess.”

AB 979, having bounced around several Senate committees without a vote since being reintroduced last month, is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

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15 thoughts on “Bill Would Force Companies To Give Board Seats To Minority Candidates

  1. People don’t go into business in order to get Chris Holden and Cristina Garcia’s approval. Imagine.
    This is outrageous.
    I don’t understand, why aren’t you two at home cowering from the threat of COVID? I thought the Assembly was shut down because of ONE CASE in your midst. Which would be a good thing. Then you could mind your own business for once and quit coming up with these busybody nonsense bills. But maybe I missed something.

  2. So a bureaucrat wants to dictate mandatory “minority” quotas for private companies? Did Assemblyman Chris Holden define who is a “minority” in California which is a state in which no one racial or ethnic group dominates? As a leftist Democrat, maybe Assemblyman Chris Holden is also a racist black supremacist who supports radical groups like BLM and the New Black Panthers?

    1. Exactly. But more than that, these legislators don’t seem to have even ONE CLUE, never mind their finger on the pulse of what’s going on right now. Haven’t they figured out yet that people in this state are beyond fed up and mad as hell? I don’t think they have because if they had, they would knock it off and lie low and not attract attention to themselves with these stupid and useless “social justice” bills.

  3. How come diversity only matters when it’s the color they see in the mirror? These people care nothing about race other than using it to benefit themselves while showing obvious racial bias and possible racial hatred for Caucasians and Asians. How convenient also to throw the current victim of police and racism and champion of the black community George Floyd into the equation.

    They both need to understand NOBODY killed George Floyd. He killed himself, died of an overdose and was nothing close to a model citizen. There is no indication the businesses are sympathetic to black lives matter either. They seem to be simply trying to appease them instead of dealing with the group head-on. Businesses are absolute fools for caving to them, and by doing so are willingly allowing a Trojan horse to walk right through the castle gates and into the kingdom. Once in the door they’ll be puppets to these selfish bigots, the DNC and the beginning of end as they influence the running of your business into a death spiral just as they continue to destroy California today.

    How come it always about ‘ diversity ‘ when it has to do with the black community bitching about how they are constantly treated so unfairly?

    Where’s the diversity in the NFL and NBA? Where are the Asians, Indians, Hispanics, etc … and why such a LOW number of whites yet predominately black? Why? They care not about racial diversity at all but rather focused on being a majority.

    People across this state and America are on the verge of losing everything including their homes, freedom, futures and liberty. As they are pushed closer and closer to that outcome the patience and sympathy for the black community’s constant cries about racism, abuse and unfairness along with occasional un-peaceful protests and full-on riots, are going to come to an end if it hasn’t already.

    Just as a historical reminder to the black community. WHITE Americans died so that YOU would NOT be a slave today. They died to stop the African leaders from selling you into slavery. They stopped the world slave trade. The people you blame, hate and bitch about freed you from a lifetime of bondage. Americans, and specifically Caucasian Americans owe you NOTHNG. YOU OWE US !!

    You’re about to wear out your welcome for good, so GET OVER IT !!

  4. Google search quote: “Board members aren’t paid by the hour. Instead, they receive a base retainer that averages around $25,000. On top of this, they also may be paid a fee for each annual board meeting and another fee for meeting by teleconference.”
    The Chairman of the Board and the CEO run the show. Most BOD members are more ceremonial and the quarterly meeting a legal requirement.

  5. Tell me how this AB 979 can be non-racism. Hispanic have a larger population than Asian-American in California. African-American and Native American have a smaller population than Asian-American. How come all of them are considered minorities in this bill while Asian-American is not.

    Chinese Exclusion Act was initiated from California. Thousands of Asian-American lost their right in owning properties and was excluded from citizenship after tremendous contribution in building the infrastructure of California. African-American has never been enslaved in California. However, California Assembly is working on a reparation bill (AB 3121) for reparation to African-American, but not to Asian-American.

    What’s the logic? Is this justified? Is California trying to push hardworking people away?

    1. That’s the problem with identity politics — it never ends, what with all the possible categories and sub-categories and the divisiveness in the name of unity and all the rest of it. Of course it is purposeful; Holden and Garcia and their doppelgangers want us all to be at each others’ throats every minute and anything they can do to make that happen they will do it. Merit (skill, knowledge, experience, etc.) and even personal values should be the criteria for these kinds of decisions — these will transcend all these other silly and very superficial considerations. But the main thing that sticks in my craw is that whatever choices are made and however they are made it is NONE OF Chris and Cristina’s BUSINESS. The nerve of these people and the arrogance. Aaaahhh!

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