19 Aug 2013
Two years after EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding’s Women on the board pledge for Europe, 21 out of 27 national assemblies of the EU have given the go-ahead to draft a law on female quotas in the boardroom. The six dissenters are the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the UK.
Reasons for no-votes vary, but only Sweden and the UK voiced concerns about the substantive detail of the proposals. Sweden said that the plans impose restrictions on dismissal of board members. The UK takes issue with the notion of a quota at all, parliamentary under-secretary of state for women and equalities, Jo Swinson, arguing that “the majority of women are not in favour of quotas” for fear of tokenism. The UK ranked 18th out of a sample of 27 OECD countries for PwC’s Women in Work survey.
The EU will press ahead with crafting the legislation – 21 out of 27 member states is a healthy majority. Data from past surveys suggests that member state electorates are overwhelmingly in favour of legislation promoting gender balance on company boards.