Daily Archives: October 26, 2012
BRUSSELS—A plan to set mandatory quotas for the percentage of women on Europe’s company boards was scotched Tuesday—at least for now—when the European Union’s executive body split over the proposal.
The initiative—pushed by Commission Vice President Viviane Reding—is among the most far-reaching proposals yet taken in a major economy to ensure better gender balance among company executives. But her plan ran into heavy opposition among other colleagues who forced a watering down of the proposal.
The centerpiece of Ms. Reding’s plan was an effort to oblige company boards to allocate 40% of their seats to women by 2020 or face EU fines. Ms. Reding cited figures this month showing that 86.5% of EU board members are men while fewer than 3% of company chairpersons are female.
According to two people familiar with the two-hour debate on the proposals, Ms. Reding’s plan had raised concerns among the Commission’s legal services and was opposed by a number of female commissioners. One said that had they voted on the proposal on Tuesday, Ms. Reding “would have lost badly.”
According to the officials, Ms. Reding presented a compromise right at the end of the meeting which drops the legal obligation of the EU to enforce the 40% target. However the compromise proposal came too late to win immediate backing from commissioners. The people said Ms. Reding had earlier said she wasn’t prepared to present a Plan B.