The SEC is warming up to calls to include people with disabilities in diversity reporting requirements for public company boards.
Allison Lee, the longest-tenured Democratic commissioner on the Securities and Exchange Commission, said there’s merit to counting individuals with disabilities as diverse members of boards, as women and ethnic minorities often are.
“It’s not an easy analysis. But it does seem to me potentially that disability is a group that makes a lot of sense to include,” Lee told Bloomberg Law in a recent interview.
The agency is looking to propose board diversity disclosure regulations for companies this fall, after approving a plan by Nasdaq Inc. to pressure companies listed on the exchange to make their boards diverse.
Disability advocates pushed the agency and Nasdaq to include people with disabilities in the exchange’s board diversity regulations earlier this year. They were unsuccessful, but their fortunes could change under broader SEC rules that would apply to a larger set of public companies.
Including people with disabilities in the SEC’s board diversity rules could open economic opportunities for them in ways that have never before been possible, said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN, a nonprofit advocating for greater inclusion of people with disabilities in business. The organization defines people with disabilities as those with physical, sensory, or neurological forms of disability.