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The European Commission yesterday confirmed that it has taken action to break the glass ceiling that “bars” female talent from entering top positions in Europe’s biggest companies. The Commission has proposed legislation aiming to have 40% of women on company boards by 2020.
It said that boards are currently dominated by men with 85% being non-executive board members, compared to 91.1% of men represented in executive boards.
The proposed Directive wants 40% of women represented in non-executive positions at listed companies by 2020. It is not a mandatory quota but an “objective”. This is expected to affect 5,000 listed companies in the EU. The quota does not apply to small and medium-sized firms and still faces a tough approval process in Brussels.
Head of ManpowerGroup Germany, Vera Calasan, said the gender quota is aiming “too high.” Politicians in the country opposed a mandatory quota. Ms Calasan argued that the proposal leaves companies enough flexibility, but in the medium term it was “impossible” to fill 40% of posts by women with the right qualifications. She said that German employers should first of all increase the number of female employees in their overall headcount.
Meanwhile UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable said: “The UK welcomes the Commission’s decision not to impose mandatory quotas for women on boards. We remain fully committed to increasing women’s representation in UK boardrooms, but along with like-minded Member States, we have consistently argued that measures are best considered at national level. So we are pleased the Commission has listened to the concerns raised.
“We believe that the UK’s business-led, self-regulatory model, as set out in the Davies Review, is the best approach for us. We will now consider the Commission’s proposal carefully and work with other Member States to ensure the final Directive supports our efforts to ensure we have diverse and effective boards.”