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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Women on board: 40% quota approved

The European Commission has proposed on Wednesday 14 November legislation with the aim of attaining a 40% objective of the under-represented sex in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies.
The proposed Directive sets an objective of a 40% presence of the under-represented sex among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges. Companies which have a lower share (less than 40%) of the under-represented sex among the non-executive directors will be required to make appointments to those positions on the basis of a comparative analysis of the qualifications of each candidate, by applying clear, gender-neutral and unambiguous criteria. Given equal qualification, priority shall be given to the under-represented sex. The objective of attaining at least 40% membership of the under-represented sex for the non-executive positions should thus be met by 2020 while public undertakings – over which public authorities exercise a dominant influence – will have two years less, until 2018. The proposal is expected to apply to around 5 000 listed companies in the European Union. It does not however apply to small and medium-sized enterprises (companies with less than 250 employees and an annual worldwide turnover not exceeding 50 million EUR) or non-listed companies.
Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, said "The example set by countries such as Belgium, France and Italy, who have recently adopted legislation and are starting to show progress, clearly demonstrates that time-limited regulatory intervention can make all the difference. The Commission's proposal will make sure that in the selection procedure for non-executive board members priority is given to female candidates – provided they are under-represented and equally qualified as their male counterparts."
85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up only 15% and 8.9% respectively.
Despite Commission’s enthusiasm, the initiative was received largely with distrust by the international press and some Member State governments.

Source: European Commission

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