[Brussels, 20 November 2013] The news about the adoption of quotas legislation during the current coalition negotiations in Germany on 18.11.2013 to reach 30% women on non-executive boards by 2016 was decided in Germany two days ago, the European Parliament (EP) adopted on 20/11/2013 the draft European directive on “improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures”.
The resolution was adopted by 459 votes in favour to 148 against and 81 abstentions, which shows the strong support of European Parliamentarians to this legislation. While the 5 largest political groups in the Parliament (EPP, S&D, ALDE, Greens and GUE) supported the directive, the European Conservatives and Reformists group as well as the European Freedom and Democracy group voted in a large part against it. One of the main change made by the European Parliament to the original European Commission proposal, recommend also targeting companies with less than 10% female employees, which were excluded in the initial draft. The EP furthermore suggests the extension of its area of application to public undertakings and executive directors in the near future.
The draft directive including the European Parliaments amendments will now be sent to the Council of ministers, where national ministers will decide about its adoption. Although the EWL would have liked the directive to apply to non-executive and executive boards, the EWL hopes that this first step towards real meritocracy and more equality on non-executive boards will be accepted by all member states. The EWL believes that the example of the several European countries, which already have quota legislation like Norway, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Italy will pave the way for more women in all boards of European companies.
Germany is one of the EU member states which has been opposed to the adoption of the directive, but the news about the adoption of quotas legislation during the current coalition negotiations in Germany is promising for the adoption of the draft directive by all EU member states.
The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomed these developments this week, which can be seen as a signal for first cracks in the glass ceiling making it hard for all the competent women from being represented in in the upper echelon of all areas of economic decision-making in the EU.
Secretary General of the EWL, Cécile Gréboval, therefore looks positively into the future:” This is not only a sign for cracks in the glass ceiling, but also a good sign for a change on the political agenda showing that equality is still a priority for European decision-makers. On the eve of elections’ year 2014 and while austerity measures are hitting women’s economic independence very hard, this gives us hope that the EU is ready to continue to take a leadership role on issues of gender equality that are crucial for the wellbeing of all.”