The EU has this week agreed a directive that requires company boards to be made up of more than a third women.
The European Parliament and the Council on the Directive agreed a 2012 proposal from the European Commission to appoint at least 40% women to non-executive board positions of listed companies or 33% among all directors.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “10 years, since the European Commission proposed this directive, it is high time we break the glass ceiling. There are plenty of women qualified for top jobs: they should be able to get them.”
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The directive also sets out measures for how to appoint directors, which includes applying transparent and gender-neutral criteria, prioritising the underrepresented sex where two candidates of different sexes are equally qualified, and disclosing qualification criteria.
Companies that don’t meet the directive’s objectives must report why they have failed to meet them, and may face fines and nullity or annulment of the contested director’s appointment.
EU countries should also publish information on companies’ that are reaching targets.
“Entrenched selection patterns of corporate board members continue to largely overlook women candidates,” said commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli.
“Change in this sector only materialised in countries that set quotas by law or policy.”