Saturday

21st Apr 2018

EU parliament backs female quotas for top corporate jobs

  • The EU may emulate Norway in imposing women quotas for company boards (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The European Parliament on Wednesday (6 July) advised EU businesses to hire women in their executive boards by next year or face a mandatory quota of 40 percent modelled on the Norwegian experience.

Women should make up 30 percent of top management in the largest listed EU companies by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020, MEPs said in Strasbourg in a non-binding recommendation.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

If voluntary measures to increase female representation fail to work by next year, then the European Commission must table legislation to make it binding, they added.

Currently women make up 10 percent of directors and 3 percent of chief executive officers in the EU's largest companies, with the number of women on corporate boards increasing by around half a percentage point per year. At that rate, the goal of having 40 percent female leadership would be attained in 50 years.

Non-EU member Norway in 2003 adopted a similar stance - giving companies two years to voluntarily increase female participation or face a binding quota. The increase under the voluntary system was minor - from five to six percent, but when the binding law was passed, Norwegian companies rushed to hire female directors and CEOs.

"From 2007 to 2009, they increased from six to 39.6 percent. That was very successful," Norwegian public administration minister Rigmor Aasrud told EUobserver in March.

Individual member states such as France, the Netherlands and Spain are also looking at binding quotas.

According to studies quoted by the Parliament's resolution, companies with a higher percentage of women tend to perform better commercially and financially. "Recruitment for positions in corporate management bodies should nevertheless be based on skills, qualifications and experience of the candidate," MEPs stress.

Childcare and equal pensions should also be improved so as to offer more incentives for women to take up top positions while not sacrificing their family life.

EU fundamental rights commissioner Viviane Reding, who earlier this year announced she would table mandatory quotas unless companies deliver on the voluntary pledges, welcomed the Parliament's endorsement.

"Today's vote confirms that the commission is acting at the right time and in the right way," she said.

"If there has not been credible progress by March 2012, I stand ready to take the necessary legislative steps at EU level."

EU commissioner up for 'fight' on gender quotas

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has said she is up for an "interesting fight" within the commission itself and with nine member states opposing draft legislation on gender quotas for top jobs in companies.

EU seeks more corporate transparency

A new EU bill calls on companies to publish information ranging from anti-corruption and bribery measures to their boardroom policies and employment practices.

Investigation

MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes

MEPs are using so-called 'friendship groups' to cater to foreign governments without oversight and little public scrutiny. Initially set up to promote cultural exchanges, some have become lobbying platforms to push state views from governments with poor human rights records.

Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study

On Thursday, the European Parliament will vote on a political deal on organic farming, following 19 months of behind-closed-doors negotiations. EUobserver here details a five-month odyssey to get access to the secret documents that led to the deal.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists