The European Commission has threatened to initiate mandatory quotas in European businesses to get more women into top management jobs to correct gender imbalance, the BBC reports.
A year ago, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, asked European companies to sign a voluntary pledge to appoint more women to their boardrooms. So far, only 24 firms out of 20 million have acquiesced, leading Reding to declare the “self-regulation so far has not brought about satisfactory results” for women.
Reding initiated a public consultation on Monday to come up with ideas, including legislation, aimed at getting more women into upper-level management positions.
Just one in seven board members at Europe’s top firms – 13.7 per cent – is a woman, the European Commission says. And at the current rate of voluntary participation, it would take more than 40 years to reach a “significant gender balance” of at least 40 per cent of both sexes.
The Commission wants to “raise female representation on their boards to 30 per cent by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2020,” AFP reports.
Reding said: “I believe it is high time that Europe breaks the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from getting to the top in Europe’s listed companies.” Norway, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have already adopted gender quota legislations.
But not everyone believes quotas are the answer. “Quotas actually undermine the principle of equality and are patronizing to women. Even those countries with quotas are still struggling with genuine equality and there’s evidence that shareholder value can be destroyed if quotas are imposed,” Helena Morrisey, founder of the 30 per cent Club, which promotes gender equality, told The Telegraph.
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