EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding: women’s presence on corporate boards in Europe

“One year ago, I asked companies to voluntarily increase women’s presence on
corporate boards. My call was supported by the European Parliament and forwarded to business organisations by Ministers of Employment, Social Affairs and Gender Equality in many EU Member States. However, I regret to see that despite our calls, self-regulation so far has not brought about satisfactory results,” said Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and the EU’s Justice Commissioner.

 “The lack of women in top jobs in the business world harms Europe’s competitiveness and hampers economic growth. This is why several EU Member States – notably Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain – have started to address the situation by adopting legislation that introduces gender quotas for company boards. Some countries – Denmark, Finland, Greece, Austria and Slovenia – have adopted rules on gender balance for the boards of state-owned companies.
Personally, I am not a great fan of quotas. However, I like the results they bring. I also note that businesses operating across borders in the internal market may have to comply with different national quota laws if they want to participate in tenders for public works. This is why the Commission’s Legislative Work Programme for 2012 includes an initiative to address this situation. Today, I am inviting the public – individual businesses, the social partners, interested NGOs and citizens – to comment on what kind of measures the EU should take to tackle the lack of gender diversity in boardrooms. I believe it is high time that Europe breaks the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from getting to the top in Europe’s listed companies. I will work closely with the European Parliament and all Member States to bring about change.”
Women and men on the boards of the largest listed companies,
January 2012

Source: European Commission, Database on women and men in decision-making and Eurostat, Labour Force
Survey. Note: Data on share of employment not available for RS; data on tertiary education not available for LU,
EL and RS.

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