Constitutional Amendment. That’s the topic of a landmark trial underway in British Columbia, Canada, reports the Guardian.
It’s a trial that addresses whether requiring women to be on boards of directors is constitutional or not.
For the past 30 years, B.C. corporations have had to include a woman on their boards or face a fine of $50,000 (about $33,967 at the time) and a maximum of $500,000 in penalties.
Currently, women represent just under one-third of boards of directors in Canada and in the United States, according to reports by the Washington Post and Catalyst.
Many corporations, say Catalyst, are “working to promote greater gender diversity” and add more women to their boards and committees.
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Opponents of mandatory boardroom gender diversity say requiring women on boards is too expensive and might not have a real benefit.
A court hearing in January 2016 found there were “legitimate goals” for gender diversity in businesses, but lawyers for the minority owners of the Royal Bank of Canada say they failed to provide a “reasonable” cost estimate.
Since then, the case has drawn huge publicity in Canada, notes the Guardian. The NDP, which is opposing the amendment, is calling the government’s attempts to deal with boardroom gender diversity a “witch hunt.”
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British Columbia NDP leader John Horgan and education minister Rob Fleming are now challenging the constitutionality of the language in the amendment, reports the Guardian.
They argue it forces businesses to comply without a credible and reasoned analysis of what benefits may be gained.
More rulings are expected later this year.