“Progress on improving the gender balance in Europe’s boardrooms over the past year has been the best for a long time (a 1.9-percentage point increase from October 2010 to January 2012, compared to a long-term average rise over the last decade of 0.6 percentage points per year). This increase can be attributed to calls from the Commission and European Parliament (MEMO/11/487) and a number of national legislative initiatives. France, which introduced legislation on gender balance in boards in 2011, alone accounts for around half the increase in the EU. But overall, change remains stubbornly slow. The number of women chairing major company boards has even declined, falling to 3.2% in January 2012 from 3.4% in 2010.
People in Europe clearly agree that this situation should be changed: 88% of Europeans believe given equal competences women should be equally represented in the top jobs in business, according to a new Eurobarometer survey published today. Meanwhile, 76% of Europeans believe women have the necessary skills. Finally, 75% of those asked are in favour of legislation on gender balance in company boards with the relative majority of respondents (49%) saying that monetary fines would be the most appropriate mechanism to enforce such legislation. ”