Women on Boards: Liberals and Democrats back EU gender quota plan

Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament (ALDE) firmly support Commissioner Reding with regard to her EU-wide gender quota plan to increase the number of women in leadership roles presented today.  In March 2012  ALDE called for such binding measures to reverse the insufficient progress made towards better gender-balance in corporate management boards. The liberals acknowledge that quotas are a very blunt instrument but a necessary evil at the same time because voluntary measures have proven unsuccessful in addressing the equality gap. The legislation put forward today includes clear quotas to increase female representation in companies’ boards to 40% by 2020.

“Women in the EU account for 60% of new university graduates, but too many women are still missing in top jobs”, says Antonyia Parvanova (NMSP, Bulgaria), ALDE coordinator on the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality committee. “There is a clear business case for stronger female presence in corporate boards. Better gender balance contributes to better business performance, improved competitiveness and economic gains. The time is now to go ahead with EU-wide measures to ensure that women are better represented at every level in society . We welcome the Commission’s ambitious proposal and are committed to making it a reality as discussions move to the European Parliament.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld (D66, Netherlands) Parliament’s rapporteur on the annual report on the state of gender equality adopted in March 2012, comments: “I commend Commissioner Reding for her courage to keep this issue firmly on the agenda. Although liberals have a natural dislike of quotas, doing nothing and leaving it to chance is not an option. We have tried that approach the last four decades, with pathetic results The number of women in boardrooms is still shockingly low. We have to act now with binding measures and clear targets to boost women at the top, otherwise equal participation by women in senior positions will be put off indefinitely.”

Silvana Koch-Mehrin (FDP, Germany) is pleased with the introduction of clear quotas in the legislation. “Congratulations to Commissioner Reding! The EU needs radical change to stop wasting female talent, to boost participation of women in decision-making. Self-regulation proved to be neither sufficient nor effective to achieve gender balance. We may not like quotas as an instrument, but the results are convincing: Progress is only visible in countries where quotas were introduced. Regardless of gender, Europe’s economy needs the best heads and hands.”