EU to impose gender quotas on boardrooms

Ben Southwood
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EU RIGHTS and justice vice-president Viviane Reding plans to force boards to put more women in top positions, after significant but slow voluntary progress, a European Commission source confirmed last night.

The proposals will require national governments to impose penalties – such as fines or a loss of government contracts – if more than 60 per cent of a firm’s non-executive directors are of the same gender in 2020. State-owned companies will have to meet the requirement by 2018.

Only firms that employ more than 250 people, turn over more than €50m, are listed publicly, or are owned by the state will be subject to the rules, and industries with a low employee base in one gender will have some flexibility in their implementation, the source told City A.M.

In May Reding said she was not a fan of quotas, but in a draft directive to be released in autumn she says self-regulation has failed to drive progress, with women still only making up 13.7 per cent of board members in large public companies.

France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands already have formal quotas, but the UK and Sweden currently have no imposed limits.