August 15, 2020

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California's Racial/Ethnic Quota Bill Is Amended To Expand Definition Of "Underrepresented Communities"

Earlier this month, I noted a California bill that would require publicly held corporations have a minimum number of "directors from underrepresented communities".  The bill, AB 979 (Holden), originally defined "directors from underrepresented communities" to mean an individual who self identifies as African-American, Hispanic or Native American.  Earlier this week, the author amended the bill to include individuals who identify as Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native.   

Like the proposed federal Improving Corporate Diversity Through Diversity Act of 2019, AB 979 relies upon self-identification.  Thus, it raises many similar questions.  For example, is it enough that the individual sincerely believes that he or she is a member of one of the listed groups or must some factual basis exist for the self-identification?  Would Rachel Dolezal's self-identification as black be respected?  If facts are required, what facts must be shown to substantiate an individual's self-identification?  Still another question is how are these communities to be defined.  Does an individual with roots in Georgia, Armenia or Azerbaijan qualify as an Asian?  Could the late Justice Benjamin Cardozo self identify as Hispanic under AB 979?

© 2010-2020 Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP National Law Review, Volume X, Number 212


About this Author

Keith Paul Bishop, Corporate Transactions Lawyer, finance securities attorney, Allen Matkins Law Firm

Keith Paul Bishop is a partner in Allen Matkins' Corporate and Securities practice group, and works out of the Orange County office. He represents clients in a wide range of corporate transactions, including public and private securities offerings of debt and equity, mergers and acquisitions, proxy contests and tender offers, corporate governance matters and federal and state securities laws (including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Dodd-Frank Act), investment adviser, financial services regulation, and California administrative law. He regularly advises clients...