The EU finally adopts its directive to further feminize the boards of directors


Better late than never. The European Parliament voted on Tuesday, November 22, in favor of the directive on gender balance among directors of listed companies with more than 250 employees. Boards of European companies will have to include at least 40% female directors by mid-2026. This proposal for a directive was presented in 2012, after the adoption in France of the Copé-Zimmermann law of January 2011, which had established such quotas.

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Ten years ago, the Commission noted that women held only 13.7% of directorships in listed companies. Since then, around ten Member States of the European Union (EU) have taken restrictive measures, like France, which has made it possible to increase this rate to 30.6% of “boards” on the Old Continent.

“Seventeen countries have not yet taken actioncalculates the Dutch socialist MEP Lara Wolters, co-rapporteur of the text. And it was a very long battle to convince these states, but also the Parliament, which is mainly conservative, to support this progressive policy. »

“There was an urgent need to finally take action to rectify the gender imbalance in leadership positions, while insisting that merit should remain a key criterion in the selection procedures for directors”, assures Geoffroy Didier. MEP Les Républicains (European People’s Party) underlines the positive effects of the law in France, where more than 45% of administrator positions are now held by women – beyond the objectives that Europe has just set itself . Other states are still a long way off. In Cyprus, this rate is still capped at 8.5%, while in Estonia, it is 10%.

“A very long battle”

“To move these countries, we needed this text. But it was a very long battle”assures Austrian Socialist MEP Evelyn Regner, the other co-rapporteur of the law, which provides for fines, or even the dissolution of the councils in the event of non-compliance with the law.

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For ten years, the EU shattered over the German “no”. Angela Merkel and the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) did not want to hear about binding measures against big business. His departure from the Chancellery and the arrival of the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, in December 2021, made it possible to obtain a political agreement in the first half of 2022 in the Council, then in Parliament.

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