The hiring landscape is changing when it comes to who’s filling executive-level positions and board seats. Women are leading in various senior roles and as board members — filling seats that have been traditionally and predominantly occupied by men. The gender dynamics of the workplace are shifting.

This year, in particular, has seen many changes and milestones when it comes to gender diversity on boards. In July, the last all-male board of directors in the S&P 500, Copart Inc., appointed a female CFO. In this year’s second quarter, female board directors in the Russell 3000 index reached 20 percent in comparison to 19 percent earlier this year and 15 percent in 2016.

ForceBrands‘ Co-Founder and Chief Progress Officer Sean Conner says companies, in general, are starting to have an increased awareness about mirroring their consumers. That includes building and diversifying your executive team, your management team, your board, and hiring talent with a variety of backgrounds. According to Conner, the explanation behind an increased percentage of female board members is that with most CPG brands, women are typically the decision-makers in households in terms of buying choices, so the boards and executive teams are being reshaped to reflect that and to better understand the consumers.

“It is helping companies to see through their overall strategy on sales, marketing, finance, or operations, and really ensuring that, again, they’re mirroring the consumer and how they buy, what they buy, and when they buy,” Conner says.

In 2004, Catalyst conducted research to see if there was a link between gender diversity and financial performance. Their findings revealed that “companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams experienced better financial performance than companies with the lowest women’s representation.” In addition, according to Catalyst, “in each of the five industries analyzed, the companies with the highest women’s representation on their top management teams experienced a higher ROE than the companies with the lowest women’s representation.”

2020 Women on Boards, a national campaign created to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20 percent (which has already been achieved) or greater by the year 2020, names a few crucial points in their statement advocating for gender diversity among board members. These points include stakeholder representation, diversity of thought, competitive advantage, and availability of essential skills.

Gender diversity on company boards is being taken to a new level with a bill that has been passed by the state of California. According to Reuters, “California will require publicly listed companies with headquarters in the state to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by end of 2019.” The law requires that if a company has five directors, the board should have at least two female directors by the end of 2021, and three women if six or more directors. According to Reuters, violators will face fines of at least $100,000 and up to $300,000 for multiple violations of the statute.

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