Although the compliance deadline for the requirement to add diverse directors was extended, the board diversity matrix disclosure form (“Board Diversity Matrix”) requirement is now in its second year.
Nasdaq Rule 5606(a) requires Nasdaq listed companies to publicly disclose, in an aggregated form, to the extent permitted by law (for example, some foreign countries may prohibit such disclosure), information on the voluntary self-identified gender and racial characteristics and LGBTQ+ status of the company’s board of directors as part of the ongoing corporate governance listing requirements. Each company must provide an annual Board Diversity Matrix disclosure, including: (i) the total number of directors; (ii) the number of directors based on gender identity (female, male or non-binary); (iii) the number of directors that did not disclose gender; (iv) the number of directors based on race and ethnicity; (v) the number of directors who self-identify as LGBTQ+; and (vi) the number of directors who did not disclose a demographic background.
On August 6, 2021, the SEC approved Nasdaq’s board diversity listing standards proposal. Nasdaq Rule 5605(f) requires Nasdaq listed companies, subject to certain exceptions, to: (i) to have at least one director who self-identifies as a female, and (ii) have at least one director who self-identifies as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, two or more races or ethnicities, or as LGBTQ+, or (iii) explain why the company does not have at least two directors on its board who self-identify in the categories listed above. The rule changes also made headlines in most major publications. One of the most common themes in the press was the lack of inclusion of people with disabilities in the definition of an “underrepresented minority” for purposes of complying with the new rules.
The original rules had tiered compliance deadlines which Nasdaq (and practitioners) found confusing and unnecessarily complicated. On December 14,