Voluntary Pledge to Increase the Quota of Women in Executive Positions Lacks Credibility

If the proportion of females holding positions on the supervisory and executive boards of the leading European companies continues to increase at the current tempo, a balances gender ratio could be achieved in 40 years time. In view of this finding, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane now doubts the success of voluntary self-regulation. Following the completion of the public consultation, which began on 3.5.2012, on the subject of the quota of females in management positions on 5.28.2012, it is to be expected that compulsory EU initiatives will be imposed on companies that are listed on the stock exchange.

At the beginning of the consultation Reding explicated: "In my view it is high time that Europe broke through the glass ceiling that continues to separate female talent from the top positions in listed companies in Europe. In order to effect this change, I will work closely alongside the European Parliament and all of the member states." The background to her initiative is the disappointing abolition of the pledge initiative, "Women on the Board – Pledge for Europe", which was only signed by 24 companies across Europe. The pledge would have brought about a ratio of women on executive committees of 30 percent by 2015, which was to increase to the target figure of 40 percent by 2020.

In the meantime, according to the Commission's report on the proportion of women in management positions, there is growing evidence, that supports the implementation of a balanced gender ratio when making decisions within the economic sector. Thus, women in management positions have made a significant contribution to improved corporate performance, strengthened competitive ability and financial profit. The Justice Commissioner has therefore reached the following conclusion: "The lack of women in the top positions within the business world is damaging Europe's ability to compete and is hindering economic growth."

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