Women should make up 30% of top management in the largest listed European Union (EU) companies by 2015 and 40% by 2020, believe Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). If voluntary measures fail to boost the number of women in senior positions, EU legislation must be used, MEPs say.
Women currently make up 10% of directors and only 3% of CEOs at the largest listed EU companies. As the number of women in corporate boards is currently increasing by only half a percentage point per year, it will take another fifty years before boardrooms have at least 40% women, says a non-binding resolution on Women and Business Leadership adopted by MEPs yesterday.
European Parliament Vice-President, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou (EPP, EL), who drafted the resolution adopted yesterday by 534 votes to 109
with 29 abstentions, commented "Europe cannot afford to leave talent untapped. Empowering the role of women on management boards of companies is not only about ethics and equality, it is also essential for economic growth and a competitive internal market. With the adoption of the report on Women and Business Leadership, the European Parliament has sent a strong message to governments, social partners and enterprises in Europe."
MEPs urge the Commission to "propose legislation including quotas by 2012 for increasing female representation in corporate management bodies of enterprises to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020", if voluntary measures do not manage to increase the proportion of women.
Norway's quota legislation is seen as a good example and the EU Parliament also welcomes decisions by France, the Netherlands and Spain to set thresholds. But MEPs say other companies, not only the biggest ones, should also have a balanced gender representation and to this end the Commission should devise a roadmap.
Plus skills training, mentoring and work-life balance
Studies have shown that companies with a higher percentage of women tend to perform better commercially and financially. Recruitment for positions in corporate management bodies should nevertheless be based on skills, qualifications and experience of the candidate, stresses the EU Parliament.
To help more women assume management posts, the Commission and member states should implement new policies, for example by developing women's individual capabilities in-house through further training courses and other forms of professional support, such as mentoring and networking.
At the same time, member states should introduce special arrangements, such as childcare, care for the elderly and fiscal incentives for companies or other ways to help women and men in business to balance family and work commitments, MEPs suggest.