European Commission Adopting 40% Directive Risks a Rise in Board Positions Over Organisational Change

Blog by Helen Wells, Opportunity Now Director

On 14 November 2012, Viviane Reding announced that the European Commission has accepted her proposal for 40% women on the supervisory boards of European companies by 2020. The directive will be enforced by members states, who will be allowed to decide how to penalise companies that fail to comply.


Helen Wells commenting on 16 November 2012:
“The detail of the directive is more nuanced than Vivian Reding’s rhetoric in announcing it at the press conference. Article 8(3) of the proposed directive“enables Member States which before the entry into force of this Directive have already taken measures to ensure a more balanced representation of women and men among the non-executive directors of listed companies to suspend the application of the procedural requirements related to appointments contained in Article 4(1), (3), (4) and (5), provided that they can demonstrate that the measures taken are of equivalent efficacy in order to attain the objective set in Article 4(1).”

“Opportunity Now will work with the UK government to ensure that the currently successful ‘Comply or Explain approach’, based on Lord Davies’ review, continues to be the basis on which UK listed companies operate. However, if progress slows or stalls, this directive means that the UK government will come under increased pressure to move towards quotas or beholden to harder sanctions and measures.