A proposal by State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, aimed at increasing the diversity of corporate boards in Illinois is now law.
“I introduced this bill and feel so passionately about this issue because there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about creating a brighter future for my children,” Welch said. “I am committed to fostering a business environment that offers the same opportunities for my son, daughter, and all women and people of color that are afforded to their peers.”
Welch’s measure, House Bill 3394, requires corporations based in Illinois to report the racial and gender make up of their board of directors to the Secretary of State’s office and requires the University of Illinois to study the data and make recommendations to improve representation of women and minorities. Additionally, Welch’s legislation would require the University of Illinois to publish an individualized rating for each corporation’s efforts to increase diversity on their boards.
The best and most current thinking on corporate health emphasizes that diversity among organizational leadership results in more nimble, creative problem-solving in our rapidly changing world. A 2015 study by McKinsey and Co. found that companies that excel in racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their peers, and those excelling in gender diversity are 15% percent more likely. As the conversation on increasing corporate diversity in Illinois has developed, Welch’s proposal has seen a groundswell of support from the business community.
“This measure puts all the data on the table, identifies practices that have worked to increase board diversity, while also holding corporations accountable that are not taking the steps necessary to embrace a more diverse corporate culture,” Welch said. “I would like to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate and Governor Pritzker for their help in getting this reform that will improve corporate diversity in Illinois signed into law.”