A growing body of evidence points to significant economic benefits from a better gender balance in economic decision-making. Having more women in top jobs can contribute to a more productive and innovative working environment and improved company performance overall. This bolsters competitiveness. Women account for 60% of new university graduates but few make it to the top of companies. Opening the door to senior positions acts as an incentive for women to enter and stay in the workforce, helping to raise female employment rates and making better use of women’s potential as human resources.
“If we want to achieve the target set by the Europe 2020 Strategy – the EU’s growth strategy – to raise the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 to 75%, we need to make gender diversity a growth asset,” said EU Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding.
Promoting more equality in decision-making is one of the goals in the European Women’s Charter, which was initiated by President José Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Reding in March 2010. The Commission then followed these commitments by adopting a Gender Equality Strategy in September 2010 for the next five years, which includes exploring targeted initiatives to get more women into top jobs in economic decision-making.
The European Commission Work Programme for 2012 announces a legislative initiative on improving the gender balance in the companies listed on stock exchanges. Today’s Commission report points out that while there have been some recent advances, particularly in countries that have introduced gender quotas, progress remains slow. There are also big differences between countries, with women making up 27% of boards in the largest Finnish companies and 26% in Latvia, but only 3% in Malta and 4% in Cyprus.
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