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PES Women President’s blog

Gender quotas on company boards need concrete targets to be met and concrete consequences if missed

PES Women President, Zita Gurmai tells EU Commissioner Reding that Company Board gender quotas needs ‘binding’ EU legislation to work

In a face to face meeting today with Vice President of the European Commission Viviane Reding, Party of European Socialists (PES) Women President, Zita Gurmai said that PES Women will only be supporting Ms Reding on her initiative on gender quotas on company boards, ‘if and when concrete measures and sanctions are converted into a binding EU directive’.

Zita Gurmai, who is also a Hungarian Member of the European Parliament, met with Ms. Reding on the eve of the Commissioners plans to publish a draft text calling for quotas on company boards. Ms. Gurmai stated that “aspirations are not enough. We need concrete targets to be met (40% of women on boards) and concrete consequences if those targets are missed. The crisis must not be an excuse for not including more women in decision-making positions”. Ms. Gurmai added that; “Ms. Reding has a responsibility to actively build support across the EU institutions and among Member States representatives”. PES Women has been advocating for binding legislation and clear sanctions for more than one year.

Women represent 60% of the holders of academic degree in the EU, but they constitute only 13.7% of board members at Europe's top firms (i.e. one out of seven). In other words, at current rates, it would take more than 40 years to reach a significant gender balance (at least 40% of both sexes). Moreover several academic studies show the economic benefits of having more women on boards of the companies.

PES Women demands the inclusion of parallel mechanisms which would allow Member States to file dispositions to dissolve the company in case of non-compliance with the law (as it has been put forward in Norway). Another example of the tangible results that binding targets can bring, is shown by French rules which can invalidate board nominations if the board's composition is not at least 50% of women. French companies have already started to recruit more women on their boards.

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