May 20th, 2021 

LGBTQ-Inclusive Corporate Board Leadership Bill Passes Illinois General Assembly

Equality Illinois and the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois celebrated final passage by the Illinois General Assembly of a legislative measure to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion on corporate boards of directors.

State law already requires corporations based in Illinois to annually report out on the race, ethnicity, and gender of their boards of directors. SB 1730 would add self-identified gender identity and sexual orientation to the existing annual reporting requirement. With this annual data, LGBTQ community stakeholders would be able to support those corporate leaders who want to identify and elevate qualified LGBTQ people to serve on their leadership boards.

Existing national data shows a stark lack of inclusion of LGBTQ people on corporate boards of directors. According to Out Leadership’s February 2021 report, of the 5,670 board seats in the Fortune 500, only 25 seats (0.4%) are held by out LGBTQ+ people, and some of those seats are held by the same individuals.

Sponsored by Illinois Senate Deputy Majority Leader Emil Jones III and State Rep. Daniel Didech, SB 1730 passed the Illinois Senate 37-18 on April 21 and the Illinois House of Representatives 69-43 on May 20th, 2021.

SB 1730 is modeled on existing efforts to enhance LGBTQ inclusion on state boards and commissions. In 2017, the Illinois General Assembly approved a law requiring LGBTQ inclusion in the data reported out by the Governor’s Office for appointments to state boards and commissions. Due to that law, LGBTQ community stakeholders have been able to collaboratively work with the Governor’s Office to identify talented and qualified LGBTQ people to serve on state boards and commissions.

Sponsor and Advocate Quotes:

Illinois Senate Deputy Majority Leader Emil Jones III:
“I am proud to have worked closely with Equality Illinois on this legislation. All historically discriminated against communities deserve representation in the business world. LGBTQ people should be represented in every facet of life and these reporting requirements will help increase equity and diversity on corporate boards.”

State Rep. Daniel Didech:
“Corporate boards that reflect the diversity of our state are good for business and align with Illinois’s inclusive values. As more and more consumers are making purchasing decisions based on whether a company reflects their values, it is critical that Illinois stays ahead of the curve and promotes a culture of inclusivity in all sectors of our economy. This bill will help us continue to move Illinois in a direction where every single person is welcome and can succeed regardless of who you are and who you love.”

Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois:
“We thank Leader Jones and Rep. Didech for their leadership on SB 1730. Due to a history of stigmatization and discrimination and being forced to hide our authentic selves in workplaces and in roles of public service, LGBTQ people have been denied space at tables of power. This robs us of the opportunity to lend our strengths and talents to businesses. We also know how diverse leadership can foster workplace cultures of inclusion and advance affirming policies for workers throughout an organization or business. SB 1730 will be an important tool to advance and ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in businesses in Illinois.”

Jerome’ Holston, Executive Director of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois:
“Thank you to the Illinois General Assembly for passing this monumental legislation. No longer will companies be able to hide behind impressive Pride month campaigns. Today’s decision will allow LGBTQ+ employees and consumers to know which corporations have embraced their identity where it matters the most – the corporate boardroom. By empowering corporations to expand their definition of diversity, SB 1730 presents corporations with the opportunity to add other voices that can contribute to greater shareholder return and employee experiences. We look forward to working with Equality Illinois as they continue to serve as a partner in advancing equity for LGBTQ+ residents throughout Illinois.”

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