Justice commissioner Viviane Reding threatened to take the matter out of national hands yesterday, saying that the EU was preparing to take legal steps to get women into boardrooms after attempts to encourage businesses to take voluntary steps failed.
But Cable said the UK’s efforts were working. “We don’t think quotas are necessary at the moment as the UK is making the voluntary approach work,” he said yesterday.
“The number of all-male boards has halved, from 21 to 11, and 27 per cent of new board appointments in the FTSE 100 have been female in the last year alone.”
Reding has launched a 10-week consultation into the issue, saying that once the review is over she will begin to consider “legislative measures”.
“Personally, I am not a great fan of quotas. However, I like the results they bring,” she said.
A year ago, she called for companies across Europe to increase the number of female board members to 30 per cent by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2020.
The government backed Cable’s stance, saying it was “already working with businesses to increase the number of women at senior levels, rather than imposing government quotas.”
And research by management consulting firm McKinsey released yesterday claimed that over 90 per cent of Europe’s leading companies are now making efforts to increase the number of women in top jobs.