Women in the boardroom, the EU approach.

The European Union is asking for ideas about how to get more women to join company boards, i.e. jobs for the girls. It is asking Member States, business or industry organisations, individual companies, civil society organisations with an interest in gender and/or social issues, trade unions, equality bodies, and other organisations or individuals for input on how to solve this conundrum.

Stakeholders who would like to help with the consultation are asked to answer the following questions:

  1. How effective is self-regulation by businesses to address the issue of gender imbalance in corporate boards in the EU?
  2. What additional action (self-regulatory/regulatory) should be taken to address the issue of gender imbalance in corporate boards in the EU?
  3. In your view, would an increased presence of women on company boards bring economic benefits, and which ones?
  1. Which objectives (e.g. 20%, 30%, 40%, 60%) should be defined for the share of the underrepresented sex on company boards and for which timeframe? Should these objectives be binding or a recommendation? Why?
  2. Which companies (e.g. publicly listed / from a certain size) should be covered by such an initiative?
  3. Which boards/board members (executive / non-executive) should be covered by such an initiative?
  4. Should there be any sanctions applied to companies which do not meet the objectives? Should there be any exception for not reaching the objectives?

Call it direct government or just meddling in people’s affairs, the fact is that very few women are sitting on company boards end even fewer are heading up large companies.

It is commendable that the EU wants to do something about this imbalance, but forcing companies to hire more female board members won’t necessarily improve the quality of the boards involved.

History has shown that forced corrections of imbalances won’t work. They create resentment, hatred and frustration. It would be much better for government to improve working and social conditions for women who want to work as well as the attitude amongst large parts of European (male) society.The attitude in southern and eastern parts of Europe with regards to women in work is still stuck in eras gone by. Unless this is addressed their efforts will be like carrying water to the sea. Futile!

Have your say on http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/gender-equality/opinion/120528_en.htm