EWLA welcomes Commissioner Redding’s initiative to increase female representation on the boards of European Companies
EWLA supports the introduction of quotas in this context
Commissioner Viviane Redding has launched an initiative to improve equality in decision making in European private enterprises. In the light of only 11% of positions on the boards of directors of major European companies, the Commission is considering the introduction of gender quotas if companies do not voluntarily improve their gender balance in top decision-making positions.
EWLA strongly welcomes the Commissioner’s initiative. EWLA has promoted the issue of more gender equality in corporate boards for many years and its General Assembly has passed several resolutions urging the European Parliament and European Commission to promote a balanced participation of women and men on corporate boards. In these efforts EWLA cooperates with and is fully supported by the national women lawyers’ associations that are EWLA members, as well as associations that are promoting women in top positions, like ‘Frauen in die Aufsichtsräte’ – FidAR e.V. [‘Women on Corporate Boards’ Association in Germany].
EWLA urges the European Commission to promote a balanced participation of women and men on the boards of listed companies and take, respectively recommend to the Member States, all necessary and useful action in order to achieve a gender balance in corporate boards within a short timeframe. Since the representation of women in decision-making bodies of public sector companies is not much higher than in the private sector, such measures should also focus on state-owned companies and companies in which a public entity is a majority shareholder.
Such measures should include
a. The adoption by the Member States of proactive polices to increase the number of women on the boards of listed companies and other private enterprises with more than 500 employees within a short timeframe, including legislation to promote a balanced representation of women on corporate boards.
b. The taking of the necessary measures by the Member States to ensure that state-owned companies and companies in which a public entity is a majority shareholder achieve a balanced participation of women and men on company boards.
c. The inclusion of recommendations in national Corporate Governance Codes regarding the balanced participation of women and men on the boards of listed companies as well as the setting and publication of clear targets for female board representation by listed companies.
d. The introduction of a duty for listed companies to state the gender distribution in senior corporate positions in their annual report. This should include board members, managing directors and other members of a company’s senior management. This should include a duty to show distinctively using a graphic format the ratio of men and women on the board in addition to the numerical information in order to highlight the ratio of women and men participating in board work.
If and where a balanced representation of women and men on the boards of listed companies, companies with more than 500 employees and state-owned or majority-held companies is not achieved shortly by other means, such as national Corporate Governance Codes and reporting obligations, more stringent action must be taken by the Commission and the Member States, including the introduction of mandatory statutory quotas for corporate boards.
EWLA is registered in Belgium as an international non governmental non profit association (Association internationale sans but lucratif). It is a federation of national women lawyers associations from amongst the European Union countries and those of EFTA countries. Members of EWLA are also individual women lawyers and academics from these countries. EWLA pursues the co-operation of European women lawyers, in order to combine their specific expertise in monitoring law and politics seen from the angle of fundamental rights, and in particular gender equality.
Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)
Ave. Louise 522, Bte.11, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium
phone.: + 32 (0) 2 648 98 50, fax: + 32 (0) 2 648 36 43
email: email@example.com; website: www.ewla.org
M e m b e r s o f t h e B o a r d :
Herdís Thorgeirsdóttir (Iceland) President
Beate Rudolf (Germany) Vice-President
Katalin Daszkalovics (Hungary) Vice-President
Regula Kägi-Diener (Switzerland), Vice-President
Myriam van Varenbergh (Belgium) Treasurer
Jackie Jones (United Kingdom) Secretary General
Martina Thomasberger (Austria)
Svetlana Ganeva (Bulgaria)
Iva Jermanová (Czech Republic)
Nina Grunow (Denmark)
Tytti Peltonen (Finland)
Caroline Bommart-Forster (France)
Eithne O'Doherty (Ireland)
Panayota Petroglou (Greece)
Antonia Verna (Italy)
Dace Liga Luters-Thümmel (Latvia)
Eugenija Sutkiene (Lithuania)
Roselyn Knight (Malta)
María del Rosario García Mariscal (Spain)
 See EWLA Resolutions of 20 May 2006, 5 March 2007, 5 July 2008, 4 July 2009, attached.