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Europe – Recruiters welcome plans to drop EU gender quota

24 October 2012

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding was yesterday forced to scrap the controversial proposal to introduce a 40% quota for women on boards across Europe due to lack of support within the European Commission.

But Ms Reding remains defiant and said she would attempt to make a proposal again next month, saying that her gender balance directive was simply postponed. She wrote on Twitter: “I will not give up, will put this on the Commission agenda again before the end of November.”

The UK’s Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) had criticised plans to introduce a mandatory quota system and welcomed the announcement that plans had been put on hold.  

“This is good news – especially as there are signs that the voluntary approach is starting to work with a record 16% of women now on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. Although we are not in favour of a quota system we recognise the need to accelerate progress and will continue to actively promote the role that executive recruiters can play in sourcing more female candidates for senior roles,” said Tom Hadley, director of policy at the REC.

David Winterburn, Acting Chair of the Association for Executive Recruitment (AER) said that executive search providers can seize the opportunity “to demonstrate their expertise and to work with clients to increase gender diversity in senior positions.”

Viviane Reding will now have the opportunity to review her proposals and “come back with something more palatable for those who were against her original plan,” said Audrey Williams, partner at law firm Eversheds.  

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