European & International News

Women just 17% of delegates at Davos as Reding discusses need for quotas

[Brussels, 25 January 2013] Women’s economic decision-making power has caught the headlines again this week. As the world’s most influential leaders from business, government and academia converge at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, women make up just 17% of the delegates, the same as last year. Although quotas exist to encourage organisations to include women amongst their delegation (they must include one woman for every four men), the conference once again highlights the lack of women at the top of big corporations, opening up the debate on why women aren’t in the board room, and ways to tackle the problem.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding spoke on a panel in Davos this morning with other high profile women leaders - including Christine Lagarde and Sheryl Sandberg – which focussed on the question, “How can gender gaps be closed at the highest levels of economic decision-making?”

“The proof is in the pudding: regulatory pressure works,” said Commissioner Reding in an interview ahead of her appearance, citing the growing proportion of women taking up board positions announced today – up to 15.8%, (an increase of 2.1% in the past year). However, growth remains considerably short of the ‘30% by 2015’ target. This follows strong opposition from some EU member states to Reding’s plan to impose 40% gender quotas on company boards proposed in October last year.

“I don’t like to intervene very strongly, but I thought it was the only way,” Reding said at the discussion today, “I tried to do it first with asking the companies to do it by themselves. What was the result? Nothing.” Reding’s comments emphasise the need for continued pressure, strong political leadership and cooperation from the business world to accelerate slow progress.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) continues to call on the national governments to fulfil their commitments and honour their values by giving this legislative proposal their full and sincere backing, and thereafter laying down sanctions with the necessary clout to break the glass ceiling once and for all.

References:

The Guardian “Davos 2013: why are only 17% of delegates women?”

The New York Times “Push for Gender Balance on Boards Gains Steam”

New Europe Online “Women’s appointment to company boards increased to 15.8%”

Bloomberg “EU Quota Rule for Women on Boards Is the Only Way, Reding Says”

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