According to media reports in September, the European Commission is expected to propose legislation before the end of 2012 requiring Europe's listed companies to reserve at least 40 per cent of non-executive director board seats for women by 2020 or face fines and other sanctions.

In March, the EU Parliament urged European Commissioners to introduce new laws in this area after calls for companies to take voluntary steps to increase the number of women on boards appeared to deliver limited progress in some EU member states. An EU report showed that 13.7% of board members at Europe's top firms are women, up from 11.8% in 2010.