Wednesday, November 14 11:34:11
Today the EU Commission has taken action to break the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from top positions in Ireland and Europe's biggest companies.
The Commission has proposed legislation with the aim of attaining a 40pc objective of women in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises.
In Ireland currently fewer than 1 in 10 board members is a woman (8.9pc), which is well below the EU average of 1 in 7.
Even this is only 13.7pc women, up slightly from 11.8pc in 2010.
At this slow rate of progress it would still take around 40 years to even get close to gender balance in boardrooms.
It is for this reason that the Commission is today proposing EU legislation to accelerate progress towards a better gender balance on the corporate boards of European companies. The proposal was presented jointly by Vice-President Viviane Reding (Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship), Vice-President Antonio Tajani (Industry and Entrepreneurship), Vice-President Joaquin Almunia (Competition), Vice-President Olli Rehn (Economic and Monetary Affairs), Commissioner Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services) and Commissioner Laszlo Andor (Employment and Social Affairs).
The proposed Directive sets an objective of 40pc of women among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges.
Companies which have a lower share (less than 40pc) of women among non-executive directors will be required to make appointments to those positions on the basis of a comparative analysis of the qualifications of each candidate, by applying clear, gender-neutral and unambiguous criteria. Given equal qualification, priority shall be given to the under-represented sex. The objective of attaining at least 40pc membership of women for the non-executive positions should thus be met by 2020 while public undertakings - over which public authorities exercise a dominant influence - will have two years less, until 2018. The proposal is expected to apply to around 5 000 listed companies in the European Union. It does not apply to small and medium-sized enterprises (companies with less than 250 employees and an annual worldwide turnover not exceeding 50 million EUR) or non-listed companies.
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said: "Today, with this proposal, the European Commission is answering the strong call of the European Parliament for EU action to bring about gender equality in corporate boardrooms. Today, we are asking large listed companies across Europe to show that they are serious when it comes to gender equality in economic decision-making. At my initiative, the Commission has significantly strengthened the presence of female Commissioners among its members, with one third of Commissioners being women."