June 16, 2017
Calling the current board diversity disclosure requirements "broken," a group of 29 House Democrats recently sent a letter to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton asking him to undertake a "formal rulemaking effort" and to "go beyond mere monitoring compliance and work with your fellow commissioners to propose a new corporate board diversity rule subject to public input." The letter referenced calls from pension funds, other organizations, and former SEC Commissioners for the re-examination of the Commission's 2009 Board diversity disclosure rules, including a recent recommendation by the SEC's Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies for enhancing those requirements. The letter also cites comments last year by former SEC Chair Mary Jo White, who had directed the agency to review the requirements and reported that the SEC staff was preparing a recommendation for a proposal, although it was never considered by the Commission. This is not the first time House Democrats have petitioned the SEC to act on board diversity. In early 2016, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) sent a letter to former SEC Chair Mary Jo White asking her to adopt changes to the diversity disclosure requirements, and she also introduced legislation asking for greater SEC study of the subject. The current letter is clearly aimed at reinvigorating the momentum which had been building around a potential proposed change in the SEC's disclosure requirements.