Twenty years after Skechers went public, the company has appointed its first female director to its now-10-member board.
Katherine Blair, a corporate attorney, leads the capital markets practice at the Los Angeles firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and will join the board as one of six independent board members.
Her appointment comes in the wake of California Senate Bill 826, which passed in October and which requires all publicly traded companies headquartered in the state to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. Skechers and others will then have to go further: By the end of 2021, companies with boards of five will be required to have at least two female directors, and companies with boards of six or more will be required to have a minimum of three. Failure to comply will result in a fine of $100,000 for the first violation and $300,000 for each subsequent violation.
California became the first state to enact such a law after a 2018 study by Board Governance Research found that only 15.5% of the state’s director seats were held by women and 29% of companies had all-male boards.
By contrast, women held 23.4% of director seats among U.S. companies on the MSCI ACWI Index — a benchmark of the global market that tracks tracks 47 countries and more than 2,700 stocks — and only 1.9% had no female board members (98.1% had at least one, and 45.1% had three or more).
Skechers, too, still falls behind its peers in the industry, though a few would fail to meet California’s quota were they headquartered in the state:
Nike: three female board members out of 14 total
Under Armour: two female board members out of 10 total
Steve Madden: two female board members out of nine total
Foot Locker: four female board members out of 10 total
Caleres: seven female board members out of 12 total
VF Corporation: four female board members out of 12 total
Deckers: three female board members out of 10 total
Genesco: three female board members out of 11 total
Designer Brands: five female board members out of 11 total
Shoe Carnival: one female board member out of eight total
Crocs: one female board member out of eight total
Numerous studies — by McKinsey, UC Berkeley, Credit Suisse, MSCI and others — have found that companies with female directors tend to have better financial performance overall. In 2014, CtW Investment Group, an activist Skechers shareholder, called for a “complete and immediate overhaul” of the company’s board due to “lengthy tenures and a lack of gender diversity.”
In a press release announcing Blair’s appointment, Skechers CEO Robert Greenberg said: “Katherine brings a welcome perspective on business, driven by her extensive experience in corporate law and governance. Complementing our current directors, her background expands the diverse viewpoints of our board, which will continue executing our strategic plans and driving Skechers’ success moving forward.”
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