Nasdaq Urged to Widen Diversity Rules by Disability Activists

Activists are pushing Nasdaq Inc. to expand its proposed board-diversity rules to include people with disabilities.

The exchange operator’s planned regulations are currently too narrow and should be amended, Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities said in comment letters submitted jointly to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nasdaq’s proposal, subject to a public-comment period and SEC approval, would require most companies listed on the exchange to have at least one director who identifies as female and one who identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ.

“Including disability diversity in the corporate boardroom would mark a major turning point for disability rights and have the single largest impact on the economic independence and quality of life for millions of people with disabilities,” AAPD Chairman Ted Kennedy Jr. said in a statement Tuesday. “If this omission persists, then Nasdaq and the SEC will miss an enormous opportunity to ensure that corporate leadership reflects the diversity of the U.S. and the world.”

The exchange operator declined to comment specifically on recommendations from the disability-rights groups. In a Jan. 8 letter to the SEC, Nasdaq said it’s planning a comprehensive response to public feedback.

“Nasdaq is encouraged that the majority of substantive comments submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are supportive of our proposal and its objectives,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “We welcome all views regarding our proposal and are listening to all perspectives.”

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