European Union postpones women quota on boards plan

 
Woman in silhouette Several countries in the EU now have quota rules for the composition of their boards

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EU commissioners have postponed plans to impose quotas for women on company boards.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding was pushing for a vote on Tuesday to make it mandatory for companies to keep 40% of seats for women.

But the proposals will now not be debated until November.

The quota had already run into problems after EU lawyers said the proposed law might go too far and countries could not be forced to meet the target.

Several countries, including the UK, are opposed to Ms Reding's plans.

"Gender balance directive postponed," Ms Reding said on Twitter.

"I will not give up. [Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso] will put this on the Commission agenda again before the end of November."

On Monday, the European Parliament criticised the lack of female candidates for the European Central Bank (ECB).

A parliamentary committee - in a resolution passed by 21 votes to 12, with 13 absentions - called on the European Council to withdraw the candidacy of Luxembourg's Yves Mersch for the ECB executive board, saying his appointment would mean that the board would be all male up until 2018.

'Time is now'

The debate on Ms Reding's plan was due in Strasbourg on Tuesday, which could have led to a vote in the European Parliament to make gender quotas mandatory across the 27 countries in the European Union.

But lawyers told the Commission that the 40% quota plan, including hefty sanctions on companies in EU countries that did not meet the target, could not be enforced under EU treaties.

Earlier reports had suggested the directive was being diluted, before a decision was made to postpone it.

At the moment, less than 15% of board positions in EU member states are currently held by women, according to the Commission.

Ms Reding's proposals on compulsory numbers of women come after France, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Belgium introduced quota laws. Norway, which is not an EU member, has had a 40% quota since 2003.

Her opponents argue that voluntary targets and increased efforts to change attitudes would be more effective in the long run.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable is leading a campaign against the quota proposals, backed by ministers from eight other countries.

In the UK, the percentage of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies has risen over the past year to a record 16%, but the UK government wants the biggest listed companies to have a minimum 25% of female directors by 2015.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 518.

    Best person for the job every time. This socialist drive for 'equilibrium' has produced more male nursery teachers with proclivities best not mentioned, female fire fighters that cannot carry larger people down ladders, 5 foot tall female police officers who have a cats chnace in hell of quelling a disturbance. Whatever the role the most qualified, best suited person should get it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 517.

    Well, if we're not basing boards on merit any more, I think the under 12s are under-represented on boards too. Who fights for the children?! Who defends their right to influence corporate policy? Come on EU, get on it.

  • Comment number 516.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 515.

    These quotas will not be met without addressing the root of the problem. Women (and some men...) have to make a choice when they decide to have a family. We need to look at improving maternity, improved childcare choices, genuine flexible working for all. The cost to businesses of losing talent because they do not support family choices, far outweighs the cost of working to retain them.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 514.

    Men and women are not the same biologically, both genders are capable to be trained to fulfill tasks. But the problem of equality comes about when you look at the hurdles women have in life compared to men, the playing field is not level and therefore you would expect to see less women in senior positions compared to men.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 513.

    While I would agree that certain companies would discriminate against female board members, the answer is not to try to impose another form of discrimination on everybody.

    What would be next for the PC brigade. A certain number of whites, black, asian, homosexuals on each board???

    It should be down to whom the best candidate is, nothing more.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 512.

    I wiuld like to propose that the working class should have the same rights.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 511.

    No wonder the European Union is in a shambles.
    I backed a European Union years ago.
    Yet, it has become a disgusting form of petty liberals.
    Liberals=Socialists
    Socialists+ Fascists =Liberals in time.
    Maybe in time no more Liberals,Socialists,Fascists.
    Just everyday people
    Can someone help me to be a everyday human/person?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 510.

    Without a doubt it absolutely has to be the best person for the job.

    But often in male dominated industries a little push is needed to remind employing bosses that a woman may very well be the best person for the job providing a positive addition to the team and the working environment

  • Comment number 509.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 508.

    501.yeahbutnobutyeah
    Just now
    The thrust of the objections seem to amount to:
    "What's wrong with the traditional way of getting on the board? If you are a man, you play golf, and if you are a woman, you have sex with a director."
    Clearly this is the best way to achieve equality.
    If you disagree then you must think
    -#-
    And if you agree, then you cannot think.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 507.

    Sorry, but if anyone, male or female, black or white, can't get a job on their own merits then they shouldn't have it. End of story.

  • Comment number 506.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 505.

    Clearly the best cannot be chosen from a single pool of interconnected friends and cronies, but from the widest available range of the most skilful professionals. Given the resistance among the present board membership holders to improve the quality of the boardrooms, it is of strategic importance to impose rules that help companies, and therefore the national economy, to be better managed.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 504.

    Businesses around the world natural evolve to what is best and usually reflect social roles mostly but not always men who runs a business. Putting quota risk putting people in position who did not achieve that position by merit. In the time of economic downturn it is farcicle if not sad that someone would want to engage in this social experiment regardless of the risk involve to businesses.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 503.

    Positive discrimination is still discrimination. More importantly you make everyone assume the women on the board only got the position due to a quota which is highly insulting.

    Why don't these people try to solve real problems rather than fixing non-problems and causing harm to the women who are actually qualified to serve in the role.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 502.

    What a stupid idea!!! So whats next? You must have a male and female representative from each country on the board? or from each continent? Merit alone gets you the position and if certain women have such a negative and quite frankly naive approach to work then, no wonder they don’t get the job.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 501.

    The thrust of the objections seem to amount to:

    "What's wrong with the traditional way of getting on the board? If you are a man, you play golf, and if you are a woman, you have sex with a director."

    Clearly this is the best way to achieve equality.

    If you disagree then you must think

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 500.

    Board level should be decided by merit not legislation. There is no use appointing someone (male or female) if they cannot do the job, just to fill a quota - this will do more harm than good.

    Maybe more males could be on the boards of more predominantly female industries as well or is this too discriminatory?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 499.

    Board members are voted there by the shareholders. If they are not at their post (sickness or maternity leave) they can be voted out at the next AGM. Maternity leave works when temporary staff can be brought in to cover, but board members are key personnel and can't be just replaced with a temp.

 

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