Fabian Demicoli

Women on board: Quotas imposed for large enterprises

Large European companies will now be
required to have higher female representation on corporate boards following the
European commission's approval of a proposal which requires that women account
for 40% of non-executive directors listed on EU stock exchanges. Private companies will have until
2020 to achieve this goal, while public companies will have until 2018.

European justice commissioner Viviane
Reding had to postpone the launch of the policy last month when warned by EU
lawyers that compulsory quotas might not be enforceable, while others are
arguing that the directive had been watered down and would be largely ignored.
While the new EU-wide plan however does not in fact set mandatory quotas, as an
early draft proposal suggested, it will introduce a range of administrative
burdens to coerce companies to abide by the guidelines.

Companies will have to prove they are
trying their best to increase the number of women in top management positions
by setting their own transparent mechanisms for selecting new board members and
reporting annually on their progress.

Not all Member States and
stakeholders agreed with this proposal arguing that the way to do this is not
through special treatment or regulation like the European commission's quotas
idea, which patronises women and undermines the business case. It is about
removing the barriers to achieving women's goals, so that women are supported
all the way from the shop floor to the boardroom.

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