Female Boardroom Quotas: EU Delays Decision
The European Commission (EC) has postponed a decision on whether to back mandatory 40% female quota on company boards.
Commissioner Viviane Reding had hoped the EC would support quotas for all listed companies in the European Union (EU) - enforced with sanctions - to correct the gender imbalance on company boards.
Her proposal followed research that revealed just one in seven board members at Europe's top companies is female, and it would take more than 40 years to†reach a significant gender balance at the current rate.
But, following an afternoon of debate, the officials postponed their decision until November 14 when Ms Reding will present an altered proposal.
If the commissioners agree with the new plan, it will be put to the European Parliament which will then vote on whether to make the quotas mandatory across the†EU.
Fraser Younson, head of the employment team at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, said the postponement demonstrated the pressure being put on the quota proposal.
"Businesses and government alike are becoming more vocal in their opposition of the plans," he said.
"This development keeps the issue up in the air for employers - if the proposals do progress through the European Parliament, they will be inconsistent with the UK's laws on positive discrimination.
"As we wait for the next announcement on 14 November, it is clear that opposition to this proposal is unlikely to die down."
A number of its†27 member states had publically said they would not support the original proposal, and last†month nine European countries had sent a strongly-worded letter to the EC's president opposing the plan.
The UK has always rejected gender quotas, but some European countries have already imposed national quotas, including France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.