A few days before Europe joined the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, a European Commission report had some disappointing news as regards gender equality in the workplace. Although 60% of graduates in Europe are female, it seems that women struggle to reach top management positions. Just 1 in 7 board members (13.7%) and just 1 in 30 board chairs (3.2%) of large companies, are women. These figures show a slight improvement from 2010, but it will be forty years before gender equality is achieved if progress continues at this rate.
Aside from being an issue of equality, research has shown that companies benefit from having gender balance in the boardroom. A report by Ernst & Young, which looked at the 290 largest listed companies, found that those with at least one woman on the board had significantly higher earnings than those with all male boards.
A year ago, Vice-President of the Commission Viviane Reding called on Europe’s publicly listed companies to increase the number of women on company boards by signing up to the Women on the Board Pledge. But so far, only 24 companies have signed the pledge. However, several Member States, including France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, have started to address the problem by introducing legislation that requires gender quotas for company boards.
So what can the EU do to address the disparity, and to help women to break the apparent glass ceiling that exists between them and high level management ? The European Commission intends to find out. In order to identify appropriate measures to tackle this persistent lack of gender diversity on company boards, the European Commission have launched a public consultation on the subject, seeking opinions on possible EU action, including legislation, to address the imbalance. After analysing these results, the Commission will decide on further action later in the year.
Read the full press release here : http://europa.eu/rapid/pressRelease...