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EU set for compulsory female board quota debate

EU commissioners are set to thrash out their views on controversial proposals that could introduce compulsory quotas for women on corporate boards.

The UK is one of several countries that are opposed to the plans, favoured by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, which will make it compulsory for companies to fill 40% of seats for women.

Currently Italy, France, Belgium, Spain and Iceland have quota laws with non-EU member Norway having had a 40% quota since 2003.

Today’s debate in Strasbourg follows in the wake of the European Parliament’s stinging criticism about the poor representation of female candidates for the European Central Bank (ECB).

A recent parliamentary committee urged the European Council to withdraw Luxembourg's Yves Mersch candidacy for the ECB executive board, as his appointment would ensure the board would be made up entirely of men until 2018.

But Business Secretary Vince Cable is against the quota proposals as are ministers from eight other member states.

Critics of Reding’s stance argue that a voluntary approach will shift deep-seated attitudes more effectively.

The UK recently saw the number of female FTSE 100 board members hit a new record at 16% - still someway short of the government’s plans to hit 25% by 2015.

This is better than the 15% of board positions in EU member states held by women.

Published 23 October 2012


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