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Proposal for a 40 per cent gender quota for company boards adopted

On 14 November the European Commission adopted a revised proposal for a draft Directive which sets a minimum objective of 40 per cent by 2020 for members of the under-represented sex for non-executive members of the boards of publicly listed companies in Europe

After repeated evidence of the ineffectiveness of soft law mechanisms to improve the gender balance on boardrooms (see DG Justice 2012) and following the failure of the last chance of self-regulation (only 20 or so firms signed the ‘Women on the Board Pledge for Europe’), EU Commissioner Reding took a further step. On 14 November the European Commission adopted a revised proposal for a draft Directive which sets a minimum objective of 40 per cent by 2020 for members of the under-represented sex for non-executive members of the boards of publicly listed companies in Europe. Member States would have to lay down ‘appropriate and dissuasive sanctions’ for companies in breach of the Directive (see press release). The proposal faces strong disapproval, not least from a UK-led coalition of nine EU Member States opposed to any binding measures.

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