Diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts are pressing concerns within the business world – so much so, that legislative efforts are mandating change. Meanwhile, is it possible for businesses that comply with United States laws to have an international advantage?

Passed into law last September, AB 979 requires corporations with principal executive offices in California to make significant staffing changes this year. While previous laws focused on diversity, many corporate boards must now include at least one member of an underrepresented community.

Who meets requirements?

Governmental mandates on businesses may be met with concerns of ownership rights. Meanwhile, executives might question whether they’ll have to weigh compliance against qualifications.

Until a court rules otherwise, corporations with between four and eight directors must include two members of an underrepresented community by the end of 2022. Next year’s inclusion must increase similarly for entities with nine or more corporate directors.

Individuals eligible for meeting these requirements are those who self-identify as:

  • Gay
  • Lesbian
  • Transgender
  • Bisexual
  • African American
  • Black
  • Asian
  • Hispanic
  • Latino
  • Native American
  • Alaska Native
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Pacific Islander

Non-compliance could result in financial penalties. Regardless of the stress obligatory staffing could potentially put on businesses, a direct correlation between D&I and global success is possible.

Company culture may be key to integration

Rather than simply meet legal requirements, businesses might consider embracing an internal paradigm shift.

In addition to traditional role qualifications, it may be time human resources decisions factor in questions such as:

  • Who is open to gaining global experience?
  • How could this candidate challenge our perspective of cross-cultural relationships?
  • Does this applicant have experience that could drive international leadership?

A broader approach to hiring and developing talent may serve a much larger purpose than fulfilling legal requirements. Through strategic effort, evaluating D&I through a global lens could shape an authentic desire to embrace differences – both here and abroad.