24 Oct 2012

EU shelves boardroom gender quota

Plans to require major European businesses to have boardrooms of at least 40 per cent women have been postponed.

Europe: gender balance directive postponed

The controversial proposals -- first mooted by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding -- have been shelved by the EU Commission following concerns that quotas would not effectively address the issues keeping women out of the boardroom, with nine national governments sending letters to the European Commission urging them to rethink the plan.
The proposals will now not be debated until November.

Leadership skills

Women represent just 13.5 per cent of European company boards and the Commissioner’s proposed law would require that a 40 per cent quota be fulfilled by 2020.
Liz Field, CEO of Financial Skills Partnership, an organisation that runs a training program aimed at promoting leadership skills among women in management positions, is one of the many sceptics of the quota.  ‘Plans need to be implemented as soon as possible to insure that companies are not forced to put women on boards but appoint them because they have cultivated their talent,’ Ms Field explains. ‘Boardroom diversity can bring any business vast benefits. However, just fulfilling quotas doesn’t address the core issues that prevent women from reaching top positions.’

Commission agenda

However the BBC reports that several countries, including the UK, are opposed to Ms Reding’s plan.
‘Gender balance directive postponed,’ Ms Reding said on Twitter. ‘I will not give up. [Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso] will put this on the Commission agenda again before the end of November.’