Women hold fewer than one in seven seats on the boards of the largest listed public companies across the European Union. In Norway, where a 40% quota has been in force for some time, they account for 42% of Board positions. And in France, which introduced quotas in January 2011, the proportion of women on Boards increased from 12% to 22% in a single year.
Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission, has been spearheading efforts to introduce quotas at EU level for women on Boards, explaining in an article in the New York Times on 10 October 2012 that “I tried first with persuasion… Voluntary measures have not achieved any progress, and if we continue at that pace we will need 40 or 50 years.”
It was being reported in early September 2012 that the Commission was to propose mandatory quotas of 40% women in non executive director positions by 2018 in publicly owned companies, 2020 in private companies employing at least 250 people or with a revenue of €50 million. Enforcement would be by fines and/or exclusion from public contract. Reding was quoted in the New York Times stating that quotas would not be enforced in the absence of suitably qualified women but that a list of over 7,000 ‘board-ready’ women had been drawn up by European business schools and others. Britain, in which women currently account for a record 16% (just under one in six) of FTSE 100 boards, and 2.5% of FTSE 100 chief executive positions, was reported to be leading the opposition. Continue reading