HARTFORD, CT — The gender and racial composition of Connecticut’s boards and commissions fails to fully reflect the diversity of the people of the state, according to a new report.
The document is an update on the gender and racial composition of state boards, committees, commissions, and councils, which have at least one member appointed by the governor or a member of the General Assembly.
“Representation on Connecticut’s boards and commissions matters,” Secretary of State Denise Merrill said. “One of Connecticut’s strengths is our diversity, and our boards and commissions should strive to incorporate that diversity into their membership.”
Only 62% of the state’s boards committees, commissions, and councils reported their gender and racial composition to Merrill’s office.
This year’s report found that women now make up 43% of boards and commissions.
The good news is that’s the highest it’s ever been. The bad news is that progress has been slow. Over the past two decades the representation of women has increased less than 9%, meaning at this pace it would take another 20 years to hit 50%.
“Although this report shows that our boards and commissions have become more diverse over time, we still have a way to go until their membership fully represents the strength of Connecticut,” Merrill added.
Forty-three percent of women, or 753 in total serving on state boards and commissions, are mostly white. According to the report, 74% are white, 14% black and 5% Hispanic.
Of the 813 men serving on boards and commissions, 81.5% are white; 7.6% are black; 3% are Hispanic; and 2.1% are Asian.
The report points out the biggest disparity is the number of Hispanic residents serving on boards and commissions. Currently, 16.5% of the population is Hispanci and only 3.9% serve on boards and commissions.
Of the 160 entities completing this year’s report, there are 11 that consist of equal male-female membership. Fifty-nine have a majority female membership; 84 have mostly male membership.
In addition, there are five boards that reported being 100% female, and 17 that reported being 100% male. Most of the 17 all-male boards are associated with occupations that are not traditionally held by women with the exception of the State Elections Enforcement Commission and the Victim Compensation Commission.
The report concluded that while it has been three decades since the General Assembly passed legislation to encourage the appointment of women and people of color to state boards and commissions, that not enough has been done to realize the goal.
To get there, the report recommends urging the appointing authorities to make diversity a higher priority. It also recommends recruiting efforts to get people of color to serve on state boards and commissions and outreach to minority and women owned businesses or advocates, industry associations, trade unions, or trade schools to fill positions on the 17 all-male boards or commissions.
Further, the report recommends a review of other states’ diversity laws, which may be valuable to duplicate here or inspire new ideas.