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US Securities and Exchange Commission

House Democrat Introduces Bill to add LGBTQ+ to Office of Minority and Women Inclusion Mandate

Bill Flook  Editor, Accounting and Compliance Alert

Bill Flook  Editor, Accounting and Compliance Alert

A House Democrat on February 3, 2022, introduced a bill that would amend the Dodd-Frank Act to broaden the scope of financial regulators’ Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion to cover LGBTQ+ inclusion. Sec. 342 of PL111-203

H.R. 6599, the Promoting Responsive Inclusion and Diverse Engagement (PRIDE) Act, is sponsored by Rep. Nikema Williams of Georgia.

“As a Black woman from the South, I know how it feels to be unheard,” Williams said in a statement. “We cannot have LGBTQ+ individuals unheard in our financial services agencies. Making inclusivity based on gender identity and sexual orientation part of the mission for these agencies means they will prioritize inclusivity for everyone, no matter who you love or how you identify.”

The Dodd-Frank Act directed the SEC and other financial regulatory agencies to each set up an OMWI “responsible for all matters of the agency relating to diversity in management, employment, and business activities.” Additionally, the law directed the OMWI directors to set out standards for diversity policies and practices for regulated entities, among other responsibilities. Regulators jointly issued those standards in 2015, with the SEC releasing its version in Release No. 34-75050Final Interagency Policy Statement Establishing Joint Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices of Entities Regulated by the Agencies.

Williams’ bill would amend Dodd-Frank to rename each office as the “Office of Minority, Women, and LGBTQ+ Inclusion” and expand the scope of the office to cover LGBTQ+ individuals and LGBTQ+-owned businesses.

The bill comes amid broader efforts by regulators and Democratic lawmakers to expand diversity disclosures and requirements across a broad range of market participants, which have not come without opposition. The SEC is now facing a legal challenge from conservative groups over its August 2021 approval of Nasdaq Stock Market LLC diversity listing standards in Release No. 34-92590Order Approving Proposed Rule Changes, as Modified by Amendments No. 1, to Adopt Listing Rules Related to Board Diversity and to Offer Certain Listed Companies Access to a Complimentary Board Recruiting Service. (See SEC Faces Additional Suit over Nasdaq Board Diversity Standard in the October 11, 2021, edition of Accounting & Compliance Alert.)

Under the plan approved in Release No. 34-92590, listed companies would need to have at least one director who identifies as female, and at least one director who self-identifies as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, two or more races or ethnicities, or as LGBTQ+,” or to explain why it doesn’t meet those minimums. (See SEC Approves Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Proposal in the August 10, 2021, edition of ACA.)

 

This article originally appeared in the February 9, 2022 edition of Accounting & Compliance Alert, available on Checkpoint.

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