Tougher measures needed to increase number of women on boards

Today Commissioner Reding of the European Union called for a period of consultation to address the serious issue of increasing the number of women in economic decision-making positions.

Calling for the need for faster progress, she pointed to a number of studies proving that diverse boards are linked to profitable enterprises. While the Commissioner is primarily aiming to achieve "credible self regulation" for companies, during the press conference she also commented that she was not opposed to a form of quotas due to their effectiveness.

I issued a statement in response:

"European companies must do better at leveraging, promoting and developing female talent. There is an alarming disparity between the number of women entering the workforce and those who eventually reach senior management positions.

Proposals for European-level legislation to set binding targets for Women on Boards is both welcome and essential. Equality within the boardroom is drastically lagging and realistic quotas are a necessary evil to kick-start the changes needed to create a correct level of diversity. This is going to be an extremely interesting 3-month consultation period, and I urge forward thinking business leaders and governments to fight for results-driven measures rather than codes of conduct and weak self regulation.

Companies with diverse boards are more sustainable, profitable enterprises. Measures to secure this diversity are of paramount importance to the economic health of Europe."


Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer