Paris, France (CU)_ According to the lawmakers, the European Union (EU) negotiators agreed to the group’s first-ever quota for women on corporate boards, in an effort to increase women representation and enhance gender equality in the 450-million-people bloc. The rule mandates that women hold at least 40 percent of non-executive board seats or 33 percent of executive and non-executive jobs combined in listed companies of all 27 EU member nations by mid-2026.
The initiative had stalled a decade ago, but this year, with renewed support from Germany and France, it gained new impetus. According to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, “After 10 years, since the European Commission proposed this directive, it is high time we break the glass ceiling”. She added, “There are plenty of women qualified for top jobs: they should be able to get them”. Lara Wolters, a Dutch socialist and the European Parliament’s chief negotiator on the issue, told the media, “We’ve finally been able to kiss the Sleeping Beauty awake”.
Gender equality on corporate boards differs by country. In Estonia, just 9 percent of non-executive seats are held by women, but in France, over 45 percent of non-executive seats are held by women. The latter keeps its own legislative target of 40 percent and is the only member of the European Union to exceed that threshold. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, an EU agency, such enforceable quotas have been more effective in promoting board diversity than nations that have enacted weaker rules or none at all.
According to the reports, in 2010, France, Germany, and Italy adopted national objectives to increase the proportion of women on EU corporate boards. However, the progress paused in recent times with less than one-third of non-executive board members in the EU’s top publicly traded companies being women. According to the statement, organizations that fail to meet the target will be required to use transparent and gender-neutral standards in order to rectify the issue. These firms must also give preference to the underrepresented sex if two candidates of different sexes are equally competent.
To give the guidelines teeth, member states will also be required to implement a penalty mechanism for corporations that fail to comply. Although there is no penalty for falling short of the target, firms that achieve it will get public acclaim. Following the final round of discussions with EU member states, the liberal Renew group of the parliament claimed that this would intensify the pressure to comply.