EU wants feminize executive committees by 2026
Following the success of gender quotas in recent years, the Council of the European Union wants to further boost more equal representation of men and women at the management of companies. Yesterday, during the EPSCO Council in Luxembourg, the member states expressed their support for the final compromise.
The Belgian quota law came into force in mid-2011. It imposes that at least one-third of the boards of listed companies and autonomous public enterprises must be made up of women. Thanks to the law, the share of women on boards of directors quadrupled between 2008 and 2020: from 8.3% in 2008 to 34.1%.
In contrast, on executive committees, where the Quota Act does not apply, women are represented at only 14.8% of which only 4.5% of CEOs were women. The Institute for the Equality of Women and Men (IGIVM) now wants the Quota Act to also apply to executive committees of companies.
Liesbet Stevens, deputy director of the IGVM, believes that the law should therefore also apply at the level of executive committees. "Quotas are not a measure that is readily taken, but they do allow for quick action in a situation of great inequality," she says. A European directive that is in the works could help in this regard.
The European directive agreed to by the Council provides two options to come into force by 2026: either provide for a 40% quota on the boards of listed private and public companies, or a 33% quota among board and executive committee members. Next steps: approval by the European Parliament in September. After that, member states will start transposing into their national legislation.
In Member States where these targets are not met, listed companies should rectify the situation through transparent selection and nomination procedures - such as a comparative assessment of candidates based on clear and neutrally formulated criteria.
Belgian State Secretary for Gender Equality Sarah Schlitz supports the proposal. "Ten years ago, Belgium moved in the right direction for more gender equality, and today we are among the best in the European class," she responds. "The figures show that we must now focus our efforts on the feminization of executive committees."
© BELGA PHOTO/ Koen van Weel - Marit van Egmond (L), CEO of Albert Heijn-Ahold Delhaize, and Ans Rietstra (R), Member of the Executive Board and Chief operational officer of ProRail, congratulate the award winner, Janine Vos (C), Member of the Managing Board of Rabobank during the announcement of the Top Woman of the Year 2021 in Theater Amsterdam on September 30, 2021. The election stems from the idea that it is important to create a platform on which female directors in Dutch organizations receive attention, are visible and can thus be role models.