EU: employment ministers unblock directive to increase the number of women on boards

Through . Published on 14 March 2022 à 16h07 - Update on 14 March 2022 à 16h07

The proposed directive on “improving the gender balance among directors of companies listed on stock exchanges” was backed by a majority of European Union member states in the Council of the EU on 14 March. First unveiled by the European Commission in 2012, the directive was blocked for years due to differences regarding the constraints that would be imposed and the calendar for meeting the targets set (see article n°9406). However, France has put the issue back on the agenda, having assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU at the start of this year. An article has been added to the directive that would allow member states to suspend its application provided “equally effective measures to those laid down […] have already been taken in that member state”. This condition would be deemed satisfied if national legislation requires that women hold 30% of non-executive director positions or at least 25% of all director positions no later than 31 December 2027. Other member states will have to achieve – by that same date – a proportion of 33% of board members or 40% of non-executive board members being women. Only Sweden, Poland, Estonia and Hungary voted against the new draft, while Spain argued for more binding measures and a more ambitious timetable. “Diversity is not only a matter of fairness. It also drives growth and innovation,” wrote Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, on Twitter. The text must now be validated by the European Parliament, which should happen before the end of the year.

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