California Law Adds Women to Boards But Leaves Latinas Behind

Only 3.3% of new female directors in the last 18 months were Hispanic.



Latina candidates are being left behind as California boardrooms add more women, even though Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the state.

“When you’re sitting in a boardroom, sometimes they’ll say, we need to have some minorities, but sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanics, and when they say women, sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanic..."

Latina directors were appointed to only 3.3% of new board seats over the last 17 months as the companies scrambled to add women to meet a new state requirement that public boards have at least one female director by the end of last year, according to an analysis released Monday by the Latino Corporate Directors Association. White women gained the largest share, at 78%, the data showed.


“When you’re sitting in a boardroom, sometimes they’ll say, we need to have some minorities, but sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanics, and when they say women, sometimes that doesn’t mean Hispanic,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, a director at Sempra Energy and Regional Management Corp. and former head of the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama. “It has to be intentional because it’s easy to still make diversity goals and leave Latinas out.”


California lawmakers passed the bill in 2018 requiring all public companies based in the state to have at least one female director by the end of 2019. On Monday, the state is expected to publish the first official list of companies that failed to comply. They each face a fine of $100,000 and will have to pay three times that amount if they’re still in violation by the end of this year. At the end of 2021, the requirement rises to three women on most boards for California public companies.


Companies based in California have added 511 women since the state passed the new quota law, with only 17 Latina women among the group, the data found. White women gained 398 seats, Asian women were selected for 59 and black women picked up 27 seats, Latino Corporate Directors found.


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