Employment

We have previously blogged about the European Commission’s public consultation on gender imbalance in corporate boards.

Women currently make up around 15% of board-level positions across the EU. The European Union Commissioner Vivian Reding has been pushing for the introduction of a mandatory 40% quota, with sanctions for companies that do not make the target.

The UK government had written to the Commission, stating that it does not support the proposed introduction of quotas.

The issue was due to be debated last week and could have led to a vote in the European Parliament to make the gender quotas mandatory in EU countries. However, lawyers informed the Commission that a mandatory 40% quota could not be enforced under EU treaties. A revised proposal has now been prepared (to be put on the Commission’s agenda in mid-November) which does not contain any sanctions, so that the 40% quota will be an objective for companies to meet, rather than mandatory.

The postponement has been welcomed by a number of employment groups, who would prefer a voluntary approach to women’s representation at board level.

Julie Keir

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