Government Interference with Business is Hurting Feminism, and It’s Not in the Way You’d Assume
On September 30th, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that names a quota regarding the number of women occupying corporate board member positions of publicly traded companies within the state. The deadline for these changes is July of 2021. By then, each public company with a board of directors must have a minimum of two women if the board has five members, and there must be at least three women on boards with six or more members. If companies do not comply with the quota, they will be fined $100,000 for a first-time violation and then $300,000 for a second-time violation. SB 826 is predicted to affect 377 of the largest publicly traded companies in California, in addition to many smaller businesses.
Governor Brown wrote in his signing letter, “It’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America.” But who is he to imply that his signing of SB 826 will be the golden ticket for women into boardrooms in California? Does that mean women were relying on the government to unlock the door of opportunity? What does this mean for modern feminism?
While the Democratic majority in California clearly believes this new law will open the floodgates for women in business, the truth is that the law is an insult to working women’s intelligence and competency in building their careers. This law tells women that they aren’t smart enough, productive enough, or driven enough to make it onto a board of directors based on their own merit alone. It implies that they must be forced into these prestigious positions by the government’s meddling hands because they simply are not capable of getting there on their own. By 2021, almost fifty percent of board members must be women. That’s not a prediction, that’s a fact — because California’s government no longer gives companies the ability to choose board members according to skill. We’re reverting to handing out positions using demographics as the only prerequisite, and this time, that prerequisite is your gender. This law will encourage America’s history of questioning the ability of women to perform in corporate environments, begging the question — is she here because she deserves to be, or is she a token woman, only here as to avoid a significant fine from the government? That elephant in the room will be present in every boardroom across California from now on, undermining women’s real successes that were achieved on their own.
SB 826 is an alarming step backward for modern feminism. Governor Jerry Brown and the state government of California are rejoicing in their innovative victory for women. The law promotes favoritism based on nothing but the body you were born into.
America was founded on the idea that you will be successful if you work hard. SB 826 blatantly defies that founding principle by proving that it doesn’t matter if you’re the hardest worker, the most dedicated, and the best choice for a job. The goal of this legislation was to equalize the sexes in the workplace, but all this law did was create the illusion of equality while actually putting women ahead of men. In 2021, you may still lose the position to a woman simply because she’s a woman. Americans are under the impression that we had left discriminatory practices like this one behind, or at least we were trying to. However, the California state government shows us exactly how wrong we are in believing that and proves that new policies of prejudice are being put into place each day. Although this time the law is discriminating against a group that has historically been more privileged, that does not justify the new form of the same systematic, sexist practices of a new target group of Americans.
Regardless of the effect SB 826 is bound to have on men competing for the same jobs as women in business, the law threatens every advancement women have made in the workplace for the last few decades. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-CA), who authored the bill, said that the Governor’s signing it into law means “another glass ceiling is shattered,” yet every woman sitting on a board of directors from now on will have her worth questioned, her presence second-guessed, and her career’s successes doubted. This law is simply the most recent example of another failed attempt by political leaders so far left that they’ve actually done a complete three hundred and sixty degree turn, back to square one. Leaders whose intentions are pure, but whose execution is lacking and offensive to women not only in California, but across the United States.