The European Commission has announced its strategy for achieving gender equality, with a push for a 40% quota on the boards of leading companies.
The European Commission is to move ahead with proposed legislation for a 40% quota of women in non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies, with the exception of small and medium enterprises.
Presenting its Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 today, the Commission said it would push for the adoption of the 40% quota contained in the 2012 proposal for gender balance on corporate boards. Under the proposal, large firms who did not meet the quota would face fines.
The Commission said it will also promote women’s participation in politics, including in the 2024 European Parliament elections, including through funding and sharing best practice and it will strive to reach gender balance of 50% at all levels of its management by the end of 2024.
The Commission cited statistics showing one in three women in the EU was subject to physical and/or sexual violence, the fact that female graduates earn on average 16% less than men do and data showing only 8% of CEO’s of the EU’s largest companies are women.
Its Gender Equality Strategy sets out key actions for the next five years and says the Commission will include an equality perspective in all EU policy areas. The aim is to end gender-based violence and stereotypes; ensure equal participation and opportunities in the labour market, including equal pay; and achieve gender-balance in decision-making and politics.
The strategy calls for legal measures to criminalise violence against women. The Commission intends in particular to extend the areas of crime where harmonisation is possible across Europe to specific forms of violence against women, including sexual harassment, abuse of women and female genital mutilation. In addition, the Commission will propose the Digital Services Act to clarify what measures are expected from platforms to address illegal activities online, including online violence targeting women.
The Commission has also launched a public consultation on pay transparency and will table binding measures by the end of 2020. To allow women to thrive in the labour market, the Commission will also redouble efforts to enforce EU standards on work-life balance “to enable real choice for women and men to develop equally both personally and professionally”. Gender equality in context of labour market, social inclusion and education dimensions will continue to be monitored through the European Semester.
Under the lead of Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, and with support of the newly created Task-Force on Equality, the Commission will also integrate a gender perspective in all EU policies and major initiatives, also known as gender mainstreaming.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Gender equality is a core principle of the European Union, but it is not yet a reality. In business, politics and society as a whole, we can only reach our full potential if we use all of our talent and diversity. Using only half of the population, half of the ideas or half of the energy is not good enough. With the Gender Equality Strategy, we are pushing for more and faster progress to promote equality between men and women.”