Posted on January 3, 2022

GOP-Led States Slam ‘Crude and Odious’ Nasdaq Diversity Rule

Erik Larson and Rebecca Greenfield, Bloomberg, December 30, 2021

Nasdaq Inc.’s effort to promote diversity on corporate boards establishes illegal “quotas” that discriminate against men and White people, a group of Republican-led states said in a court filing.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday said Nasdaq-listed companies would have to “overlook a person’s relevant qualifications under the guise of promoting diversity” if forced to follow the rule. Nasdaq is requiring listed firms to disclose the demographics of their boards; those that don’t have any self-identified women and at least one underrepresented minority or LGBTQ person have to explain why not.

“It is unconscionable to see discrimination so blatantly put on display by requiring these companies to hire employees based solely on race, sex, and sexuality,” Paxton said in a statement.

Texas was one of 17 states that this week submitted a brief in the federal appeals court in New Orleans supporting a legal challenge filed against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over its approval of the rule in August.

Republican-led states have repeatedly clashed with the Biden administration over its equity policies, though many trends, including new state laws and investor pressure, have also pushed boards to diversify. Most boards at Nasdaq-listed companies already meet the new standard, though more than a third lacked a racially diverse director and around 10% had no women, as of this summer.

The SEC lacks authority to issue the “crude and odious” rule, the GOP-led states said in their brief supporting the lawsuit {snip}