The objective of the meeting was to identify ways to engage employers, trade unions and other institutions to actively promote greater gender balance not only on company boards but on all decision making bodies. As Commissioner Reding said: “It is important that Member States recognise the economic and business case for supporting gender balance on company boards to ensure more jobs and growth for the European Union”.
I am also very pleased that on 20 November the European Parliament adopted its resolution on the subject by a very large majority (459 votes to 148, with 81 abstentions), endorsing the need for greater transparency and meritocracy in the recruitment process of non-executive board directors in European companies.
In Europe, company boards are dominated by one gender: 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively. Despite an intense public debate, the situation has not changed significantly: an average increase of the number of women on boards of just 0.6 percentage points per year has been recorded since 2003. The Commission has therefore proposed legislation to counteract this. The proposed Directive sets a minimum objective of 40% by 2020 for members of the under-represented sex for non-executive members of the boards of publicly listed companies in Europe, or 2018 for listed public undertakings. The Directive is a temporary measure and is set to expire in 2028.
Madi Sharma Rapporteur of SOC/475