To Bust Glass Ceiling, EU Weighs Gender Quotas

Just 13.7% of major firms' boards are female
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2012 2:22 PM CST
To Bust Glass Ceiling, EU Weighs Gender Quotas
European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding addresses the media at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Monday, March 5, 2012.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

Only one in seven board members at Europe's biggest firms is female, and the EU Justice commissioner aims to change that. "Self-regulation so far has not brought about satisfactory results," Viviane Reding says. She's begun a public consultation on how to address the matter, and legislation is a possible solution, the BBC reports. "I am not a great fan of quotas. However, I like the results they bring," she says.

"I believe it is high time that Europe breaks the glass ceiling that continues to bar female talent from getting to the top in Europe's listed companies," Reding notes. At the rate things are going, it would be more than 40 years before the aforementioned boards hit a "significant gender balance," meaning they're at least 40% female. But numbers of women executives vary widely between countries: In Finland, for example, 27% of top board members are women, while in Malta it's just 3%. Some countries, including France, Italy, and Spain, already set gender quotas for firms. (More women stories.)

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