European & International News

MEPs sympathetic to quotas for women in business leadership

[European Parliament, Brussels, 24 May 2011] Only 10% of the board members of the EU’s top 10 listed companies are women and Parliament vice-president Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou wants to introduce legally binding quotas to improve gender balance in boardrooms. Parliament’s Women’s Committee will vote 25 May on proposals to impose quotas, allowing competent women access to top jobs.

The introduction of legal requirements at national level has helped in some EU countries, but statistics show that women remain poorly represented at management level. With the number of women at the top of business increasing just 0.5% a year, it will take another 50 years before corporate boards include at least 40% women.

Ms Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou’s report calls for "affirmative action, in order to achieve the optimal use of female human resources at all levels within companies" and for a "a road map setting specific, measurable, appropriate and realistic targets, with a timetable, for the achievement of balanced representation".

Some countries already impose quotas for women board members, for example France and Spain require boards of listed companies to have 40% women members by 2015, while Italy and Belgian are discussing new rules.

There has been some impact. Since 2008, when France started talking about the legislation, the number of women in management has increased from 7.6% to 12% in 2010. The number of women in boardrooms in Spain over the same period rose to 11% from 6.6%.

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