On Monday 17th October 2022, the European Council gave its final approval on EU rules to promote a more balanced gender representation on the boards of listed companies.  

The “Women on Boards” Directive was agreed to by the Council of Ministers on Monday 17 October 2022 following a 10 year delay. The European Council finally agreed to take action to ensure the application of equal opportunities and treatment of men and women in matters of employment, which will directly seek to advantage the under-represented sex, which in most instances is women. 

The effect of this directive seeks to increase the presence of women among top management positions and on corporate boards. 

The directive will now be subject to a vote by European Parliament, which is expected to occur before the end of 2022 and will then need to be transposed into national law. Member states have two years following the entry into force of the directive to adopt the required national measures. The directive will enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. 

Commenting on the EU Women on Boards directive, Candice Eaton Gaul, Global Diversity and Inclusion Leader at RSM International, said: 

“The final approval of the EU’s “Women on Boards” Directive by the European Council has been eagerly anticipated. Initially proposed by the European Commission a decade ago, if voted in by the European Parliament this crucial piece of legislation will be a reality which carries weight and significance to support greater gender parity in senior leadership and top management positions. 

“This legislation, once transposed into national law, has the potential to transform the way that all EU publicly listed companies approach board and top management diversity, which could influence other global regions to take similar action. I am hopeful that before the end of the year, the European Parliament will vote in favour of the directive to be adopted.”