The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. Photo: Chas Hundley

Oregon House Democrats issued a news release announcing the passage of House Bill 3310A, which requires publicly-traded corporations to have a minimum number of directors who are women and members of underrepresented communities. 

HB 331A is part of a concerted effort by Oregon Democratic lawmakers—similar to a bill passed in California in 2018 requiring corporations headquartered in that state to have at least one woman on its board of directors by the end of 2019—to increase diversity in its board and commissions.

The bill aims to diversify the workforce and ensure historically extended populations are given a seat at the table of publicly traded companies. Boards are an important part of a company, supporting shareholders' interests, company goals, and even selecting chief executive officers (CEOs). 

“It is not the lack of talent or expertise from women or communities of color that impede greater diversity on boards, but rather, historical bias and inequality at the highest levels of business that continues to stymie diverse leadership opportunities,” said Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie)’

Power is a co-chief sponsor of the bill, along with Sen. Deb Patterson (D-Salem), Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Rep. Anna Williams (D-Hood River), Rep. Teresa Alonzh Leon (D-Woodburn)., Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland), Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Southern Jackson County), Rep. Mark Meek (D-Clackamas County), Rep. Courtney Neron (D-Aloha, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville, Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), and Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Portland). 

If passed by the Oregon Senate and brought to Gov. Brown’s desk to sign, the law would take effect the 91st day following its being signed into law, and companies would face a civil fine of at least $10,000 if they do not comply, the bill states. 

A study published in a digital newsletter by industry research firm McKinsey and Company, a global consulting firm focused on diversity, along with KPMG, and Credit Suisse, also shows that companies with more women on their boards of directors tend to be more profitable.

“The data is there,” Rep. Bynam said. "When companies are more diverse with different ideas and perspectives at the table, this is reflected in the results of the company yields for customers and investors alike. As a business owner, I know this first-hand. It is imperative  that we have different voices represented to create opportunities for communities who have never had space to lead, but also for the success of our business(es).”