The project had been on the back burner since a proposal made by the European Commission in 2012. Negotiators from the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament announced, on Tuesday evening June 7, that they had reached a compromise to increase the proportion of women on the boards of directors of European companies by introducing quotas.

According to the new rules, companies listed in EU member countries must ensure that they allocate at least 40% of non-executive seats on their boards to women by mid-2026. , or at least 33% executive and non-executive seats.

“After ten years, since the European Commission proposed this directive, it is high time that we break this glass ceiling, reacted in a press release, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. There are plenty of qualified women for leadership positions. They should be able to access it. »

Penalty system

Companies that fall short of these goals will have to “apply transparent, gender-neutral criteria” to address the issue and “prioritize the underrepresented gender” when two applicants of different genders have the same qualifications, the statement said. Member States will also have to put in place a system of penalties for companies that do not comply with the rules.

Currently, only nine of the twenty-seven Member States have national legislation concerning gender equality on boards of directors. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, the proportion of women on the boards of the largest listed companies in the EU has increased from 11.9% in 2010 to 31.3% today .

But this representativeness varies greatly between the different countries of the community block. In Estonia, only 9% of seats are held by women, while in France, where a minimum legal threshold has been set at 40%, this percentage exceeds 45%.