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S&Ds: More women on boards – the time is now!


05 Oct 2020



During today’s plenary, the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament will call on the member states – and especially on the current German presidency – to finally take action and adopt the so-called ‘Women on Boards Directive’, which introduces an open and transparent procedure to reach a minimum of 40% of women on non-executive boards of EU companies. The European Commission presented the proposal back in 2012, the European Parliament adopted its position the following year and since then it has been blocked by a minority of member states in the Council.

Evelyn Regner MEP, chair of the committee on women's rights and gender equality, and the European Parliament’s negotiator on the Women on Boards Directive in this committee, said:

“Women in Europe need to have equal chances on all levels. Women on boards are an asset for every company because the most successful companies are those that have diverse boards of directors. Unfortunately, voluntary measures have so far had little effect and the fact that this important file has been blocked in the European Council for seven years now is delaying this great leap towards more women in Europe's executive boards further and further. We will no longer tolerate such a snail's pace in equality measures and once more urge the Council to get to work again on this important proposal.“

Lara Wolters, S&D MEP and the European Parliament’s negotiator on this file in the legal affairs committee, added:

“Seven years of inaction have given us more evidence of what we already knew: individual action by companies and self-regulation will not bring equality and diversity to EU businesses. In the meantime, countries with binding quotas have female representation on boards that is 23.6 percentage points higher than in countries that took no action whatsoever.

“This inaction is not only at odds with the principle of gender equality – a core principle of the EU – but is also a waste of talent and opportunity. It is high time that Germany, which has been part of the blocking minority for seven years, takes responsibility during its Council presidency and gets to work for the ultimate benefit of women and men in all business sectors across the EU.”

Note to editors:

The most recent figures from the European Institute for Gender Equality show that in October 2019, the share of women on the boards of the largest publicly listed companies in the EU has more than doubled to 28.8 % from 11.9 % in 2010. However, more than seven in 10 board members are still men. France is the only EU country where gender balance has been achieved on company boards (45.2%).

The impact of legislative action is striking: since 2010, countries that have taken legislative action have seen a rise of 27.2 percentage points, resulting in 36.5 % women on boards. Countries that have implemented non-regulatory measures have seen half that progress since 2010, with a rise of 14.3 percentage points, resulting in 28.1 % women on boards. Countries that have taken no action have seen almost no progress.


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