Two days ago, the European Parliament approved proposals in which listed companies must ensure women make up at least 40% of non-executive board members,or face the threat of getting dissolved by the European Commission. It is being promoted by the Commissioner Viviane Reding as “a step in the right direction” towards gender equality in the workplace. While it may be well-intentioned, ‘positive discrimination’ is a highly controversial practice.
It is not the EU’s place to regulate the gender make-up of board rooms. It should be up to national governments to implement such policies if they have the democratic mandate to do so rather than being coerced into doing it by Brussels. Currently, the unelected European Commission has 9 female Commissioners out of 28 (34%) so it is in no position to make such hypocritical demands.
Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management highlights the danger of this regulation by saying “this is disappointing, unhelpful and unnecessary; appointing women to boards on anything other than merit only creates an optical solution and does nothing to improve gender balance at management levels.” This incompetent policy is harming women’s rights and it will turn out to be a step backwards for gender equality in the workplace, thanks to the EU.
Alan Murad, Deputy Campaign Manager