Firms hail new watered down approach to EU board quotas

Ben Southwood
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FIRMS and equality groups yesterday welcomed the European Commission’s decision to water down its quotas plan, saying the voluntary approach was working.

The European Commission (EC) decided to scrap its original plan to impose 40 per cent quotas on firms, replacing it with a 40 per cent target. The EC will require member states to penalise firms that both fail to meet the objective, if they also fail to favour equally qualified women.

“These proposals are not a quota as such,” explained Clodagh Hayes at Linklaters, “Companies who don’t meet the target just need to ensure their recruitment processes are transparent and give preference to equally qualified female candidates.”

Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club, which aims to bring more women onto corporate boards, hailed the decision, pointing out that UK firms were rapidly adding qualified women to non-executive roles already, under the voluntary approach. “There has been a decisive shift in the pace of change towards better gender balance in Britain’s boardrooms,” Morrissey said. “In the past six months, 30 out of 62 FTSE100 non-executive directorships have gone to women, a pace of change that surely cannot be bettered if you believe in appointment by merit.”