Illinois Corporate Board Diversity Bill Passes First Hurdle

April 12, 2019

The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill that would require publicly-held companies headquartered in the state to have a minimum of one female director and one African-American director on their boards of directors by the close of 2020.

Companies not able to comply to be fined:  If unable to provide board member information to the Illinois Secretary of State demonstrating a seat on the board was held by a qualifying individual at one point during the calendar year, a company will be fined $100,000 for the first violation and $300,000 for subsequent violations.

The Illinois Secretary of State would publish on an annual basis:

  • The number of public companies in Illinois that have at least one female director and one African American director;

  • The number of corporations subject to the bill that were in compliance during at least one point during the preceding calendar year;

  • The number of publicly-held corporations that moved their U.S. headquarters to Illinois from another state or out of Illinois into another state during the preceding calendar year; and

  • The number of companies subject to the bill during the preceding year that are no longer publicly traded. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) said:  “It’s important that the leadership of large companies in Illinois reflects the diversity of our state.  For too long, women and African-Americans have been excluded from the opportunity to serve on corporate boards and this measure will make sure they are represented.”

Looking ahead:  With a Democratic governor and state senate, the bill has a healthy chance of joining California’s 2018 board diversity measure in becoming law.  The question is: do two bills create a trend?