PES Women: Angela Merkel must unblock ’Women on Boards’ Directive

06/10/2020

Women on boards

Women make up less than 30% of board members and only 8% of CEOs of the largest listed companies in the EU. This gender inequality in economic decision-making is not only unfair, it is a waste of human resources, talent and innovative potential, PES Women said today as it called for the EU’s Women on Boards Directive to be implemented.

Today, a week ahead of an EPSCO Ministerial which will debate equal participation of women and men in the labour market, and in the context of the German Council Presidency, PES Women is launching a campaign video calling on German chancellor Angela Merkel to unblock the Women on Boards EU Directive, which has been stuck in the Council since 2012.

Chancellor Merkel has previously expressed support for quotas for German boards, but continues to oppose them at the EU level, even though they would lead to greater social and economic cohesion. As one of the few female heads of states, she should show solidarity with women in Europe by putting the Directive back on the Council agenda and voting in favour of it.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“The Women on Boards Directive is an obvious win for both gender equality and economic progress. Experience at national level shows that self-regulation is insufficient and that gender equality on boards is highest in countries with binding quotas. Companies with more gender balanced and diverse leaderships are more transparent and perform better, which in turn boosts Europe’s economy. This is sorely needed if we are to overcome the current economic crisis.

“An EU Directive is necessary, since national level action has not been enough to improve gender equality on boards consistently across Member States. Cohesion at European level would send a clear message that the EU is serious about women’s representation in decision-making. In every EU Treaty revision countries have made further commitments on gender equality in the EU. Now it is time to deliver and the Women on Boards Directive is the obvious next step.”

The Directive sets the aim of a minimum of 40% of non-executive members of the under-represented sex on listed company boards.

During yesterday’s plenary, the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament called on the member states – and especially on the current German Presidency – to finally take action and adopt the Directive.

After seven years of stalled negotiations, PES Women believe it is time to deliver the bare minimum for the sake of fairness, profitability, productivity, and solidarity with women in Europe.

Progressive European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, has stated her desire to unblock the Directive, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen - who hails from Chancellor Merkel’s CDU party - has also promised progress on the Directive during her tenure.