As our nation works to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, the House Democrats are developing a Coronavirus response bill, “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.” Unfortunately, a lot of the bill has nothing to do with combating the challenge of coronavirus.
House Democrats argue that they are putting workers and families, not corporations first (in contrast to their critique of the Republican bill before the Senate). But the bill proposed by the House Democrats, which is over 1,400 pages long, contains many elements which are unconnected to the coronavirus response. Among these elements (which include pay equity, US postal service debt forgiveness, and airline carbon emissions) are corporate board diversity measures.
While the corporate board diversity measures focus more on reporting diversity, it is only a small step from there to mandating diversity on corporate boards.
I wrote IWF’s March Policy Focus on Corporate Gender Quotas, arguing that while quotas may be well-intentioned, they only ultimately undermine women’s hard work among other detrimental effects. (You can read the takeaways here).
Corporate board diversity measures act in similar ways. While a diversity of opinions and viewpoints may be beneficial for a firm, firms should make their own decisions on board members. Corporate boards shouldn’t be shamed into having more diverse members for diversity’s sake.
Our nation’s lawmakers should be focused on addressing the crisis at hand, instead of pushing for social justice measures that are not relevant to the coronavirus and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Americans.
There’s a time and a place for everything. Now is the time to come together and defeat the coronavirus. Let’s save the divisive policies for a later date.