EU gender quota on board membership finally coming?
Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and citizenship, is drafting a proposal to enforce a gender quota on board membership: Listed companies should reserve 40 percent of their non-executive directorships for the under-represented sex. With an ongoing discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of a quota for years already it is not surprising that these news were received and commented in a controversial manner. Nine EU countries already stated publicly their opposition to the initiative as they see the countries in charge of this topic. Still Reding is confident that she is able to convince the opponents and to reach sufficient support. Besides some European countries also other voices seem to be critical and against a quota. The 2012 Board of Directors Survey, facilitated by Heidrun & Struggles and WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) and conducted by Dr. Doris Groysberg and Deborah Bell, shows great differences in the opinion regarding board diversity between female and male directors. Half of the female participants are of the opinion that a quota is a useful measure for increasing diversity in the boardroom – whereas only one quarter of the men answered like this. Also about 40 percent of the women support the use of quotas which does less than one in five male respondents. But these figures do not only show substantial differences between women and men, they also demonstrate that quotas do not have overwhelming support.
Still the voluntary measures of companies in the last years seem to be not efficient enough in reaching the goal of increasing the number of women in the boardrooms. So somehow a cultural change needs to be forced, but – is a quota the right way here?
What is your opinion about the planned EU quota?