Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has announced today that the European Commission’s vote on her proposal to introduce a mandatory quota for women on the boards of listed companies in member states has been postponed. However, we understand that this issue will be back on the Commission’s agenda on 14 November, and Reding has tweeted that she “will not give up”. More time is apparently needed to reach consensus on some of the legal issues relating to implementation.

Whilst the detail of the proposed Directive has still not been released, what has been confirmed in a press conference this afternoon is that the quota will be 40%, and (if implemented) companies will be required to achieve it by 2020. However, it has also been confirmed that the quota will only apply to non-executive boards.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Parliamentary Select Committee for Business, Innovation and Skills has extended the deadline for written submissions on its “Women in the Workplace” inquiry until Christmas 2012.  The topics to be covered in the inquiry include:

What steps should be taken to provide greater transparency on pay and other issues, such as workforce composition?

  • To what extent have the recommendations in Lord Mervyn Davies’ Report “Women on Board” (published in February 2011) been acted upon?
  • To what extent should investors take into account the percentage of women on boards, when considering company reporting and appointments to the board?
  • Why are there still so few women in senior positions on boards, and what are the benefits of having a greater number?
  • How successful is the voluntary code of conduct (a recommendation of the Davies Report) which addresses gender diversity and best practice, covering relevant search criteria and processes relating to FTSE board level appointments?

More information is available here: