Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on September 30, 2018 requiring publicly held companies based in California to have at least one female on their boards of directors by the end of 2019, and, depending on the size of their boards, additional females by the end of 2021. Financial penalties will apply for noncompliance.

With the enactment of this law, California becomes the first state in the US to mandate gender diversity in the corporate boardroom.

While California, and, in particular, Silicon Valley, often has the reputation of being progressive, the new law has sparked a challenging debate. Is this an effective way to enable women to break the glass ceiling? Is the government overreaching by mandating diversity in private businesses? Does it elevate gender diversity over other aspects of diversity? Despite the debate, both advocates and critics of the law agree on the importance of board diversity.

See our summary of the new law.