EU Consultation on female representation on Boards

The European Commission has published a consultation on gender imbalance on the corporate boards of companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU, with a view to proposing measures to rectify female underrepresentation. The results of the consultation will assist the Commission in determining the suitability of legislation. The closing date for the consultation is 28 May.

The consultation aims to feed into an assessment of possible EU-level measures to enhance female participation in economic decision-making. It follows the March publication of the EU’s Progress Report entitled ‘Women in economic decision-making in the EU’, which highlighted the fact that limited progress had been made in the preceding few years on the question of gender equality on boards and the possible necessity of legislative action to address the problem.

Stakeholders the Commission is targeting include Member States, business organisations, individual companies, civil society organisations who have an interest in gender and/or social issues, trade unions, equality bodies, and other organisations or individuals.

Examples of questions the consultation is asking stakeholders to consider include:

(1) How effective is self-regulation by businesses to address the issue of gender imbalance in corporate boards in the EU? and

(2) In your view, would an increased presence of women on company boards bring economic benefits, and which ones?

It also asks stakeholders to consider the introduction of quotas and what the minimum requirements should be for female representation on boards.

The Employment Lawyers Association is formulating a response to the consultation and to this end has sought the views of employer and employee representatives as well as in-house employment barristers.

The Commission is expected to make further announcements after the consultation closes on 28 May. We will keep you updated on all further developments in this area.

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