The project, which has been stalled for ten years, got a boost this year thanks to support from Germany and France. “We have finally succeeded in waking up Sleeping Beauty,” said Lara Wolters, a Dutch socialist and the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on the issue.
Gender representation on company boards varies widely from country to country. In Estonia, 9 percent of non-executive seats are held by women, and in France, over 45 percent. France has its own legal target of 40 percent and is the only EU country to exceed this figure.
The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), an EU agency, said in April that these binding quotas had proved more effective in improving boardroom balance than the more flexible or non-existent measures adopted by countries.
Women’s representation on EU boards increased after France, Germany and Italy introduced national targets from 2010. But progress has stalled recently, with less than a third of non-executive board members of the EU’s largest listed companies being women.
Although there are no sanctions for failing to meet the target, companies that reach it will be “publicly congratulated”.
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