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Topline: New data shows that women occupy 20% of board seats for publicly traded companies (up from 15% in 2016), with the increase coming from a California law requiring their appointments and social pressure put on companies to become more diverse—but it’s unclear if this is a consistent, upward trend.
Surprising fact: Some California companies are considering paying the fine (starting at $100,000) instead of hiring a woman director as required by law.
Key background: Women are historically underrepresented at the highest levels of business. Just 5% of CEO roles of companies listed on the S&P 500 are held by women. And with more women making up high percentages of business, social science and law graduates, companies’ executive suites should become increasingly diverse. There may also be a financial gain to be had by hiring more women throughout a company’s ranks. Research released by Morgan Stanley in August showed that companies with a higher number of female employees have, on average, stock prices that are 2.8% higher than less-diverse companies.