- Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission May 23 to require companies to disclose race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability status data of their corporate boards, executive leadership and workforce. The two wrote in their capacities as chairwoman of the Committee on Financial Services and chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
- The letter drew particular attention to people with disabilities. Congresswoman Waters and Senator Brown noted that while companies report race, ethnicity and gender data to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission through their EEO-1 filings — and many do so publicly — there is a need for disability data as well. “Collecting and publicly reporting data on disability status is key to closing the employment gap facing individuals with disabilities in the workforce,” they wrote.
- In addition to workforce and leadership data, the members of Congress requested the SEC require businesses to disclose supplier data. “Supplier diversity and procurements should be tracked and shared with shareholders, so the company and its shareholders know how their investments are being spent and with whom,” the statement read.
In their efforts to address diversity and inclusion, companies and government agencies have drawn more attention to increasing representation of marginalized or underrepresented groups within both leadership and the organization’s workforce as a whole.
Many of those calls have come from company coalitions that seek to hold each other and other organizations accountable. In their letter to the SEC, Congresswoman Waters and Senator Brown referenced the Joint Investor Statement on Disability Inclusion — a letter spearheaded by Disability:IN, an advocacy group that has engaged more than 400 corporate partners on disability inclusion. The statement encouraged companies to actively recruit people with disabilities, create a supplier diversity program, adopt a proactive disability accommodations policy and more.
Shareholder activist groups have also put pressure on companies to improve their DEI performance. As You Sow, for example, has a set of social justice initiatives; these include a racial justice scorecard, which analyzes hiring, promotion and retention of people of color, and workplace equity, which examines gender and ethnic diversity “across a company’s board, management, and staff at all levels.”
Corporate leadership and shareholder buy-in is not enough, however, Waters and Brown argued to the SEC; “Required disclosures on actual spend and hiring is essential to ensuring firms are accountable and transparent to their current shareholders and potential investors,” they said.