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EU Commission to rule on women board members for all companies?


Forum Editor

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Viviane Reding, Vice-President of The European Commission is scheduled to hold a press conference in Strasbourg about plans for mandatory quotas for women in the boardroom. The outcome of the press conference is likely to be controversial as nine national governments have sent letters to the European Commission to re-think the quotas. Vice-President Reding wants businesses to guarantee that at least 40% of board members will be women by 2020. Currently, women represent just 13.5% of company boards.

What could possibly be wrong with that?

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Forum Editor

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wee eddie

There was opposition when the 40% quota law was introduced in Norway in 2003. Opponents said such positive discrimination would be unfair to men and that private companies should be given the freedom to appoint whichever candidates they preferred to their boards. Another common argument was that more competent men would be replaced with less skilled or qualified women.

Nine years on the true situation is much different. The percentage of female board members (45%)is actually slightly higher than the quota law demands, and since the law was introduced there have been no complaints from employers associations, nor have CEOs stated that they have had problems finding suitable candidates for the board. A 2010 study revealed that 36 percent of female board members had a university education lasting six years or more, compared to just 22 percent of their male counterparts.

It didn't all happen on its own however. When the Norwegian law was first passed the government stated that there would be a voluntary compliance period, allowing businesses time to introduce new policies and find suitable board members. It wasn't plain sailing; three years later the female board member percentage had only risen to 18%, so the decision was taken to enforce the law very strictly - the toughest penalty for failure to comply is compulsory dissolution of the business. It worked like a charm, and by 2009 the quota target of 40% had been reached.

The lesson to be learned is that women are not going to get a fair crack of the whip unless there is legislation to ensure it. Men will actively prevent women from rising to the top if they can.

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Sweet-Tea

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Very well put FE! "The lesson to be learned is that women are not going to get a fair crack of the whip unless there is legislation to ensure it. Men will actively prevent women from rising to the top if they can."

Positive discrimination is just a start~ and later things could be changed, when companies catch up and face reality. There are plenty of well-educated, and WELL-QUALIFIED women, who are just as CAPABLE as men in the Boardroom. As people's ATTITUDES change and GENDER equality in opportunities is achieved as a way of life, things will settle, and women and men will be seen as employees at work, and not necessarily male or female.

If nothing is done as far as legislation, and ways to ENFORCE laws; then the status quo will remain the same, and women will forever get a raw deal in life.

Common people, let's move on with the times. Give women a chance! Let's give our sisters and daughters a chance!

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Sweet-Tea

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D@ve ~ Indeed, there's plenty of legislation regarding discrimination, but it's difficult, if not impossible, in most cases, to prove that one has been discriminated as a result of one thing or another. Government enforcement of some laws, as in this case, as far as the Boardroom is concerned, is most paramount. Otherwise things will never change.

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Sweet-Tea

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Very well put FE! "The lesson to be learned is that women are not going to get a fair crack of the whip unless there is legislation to ensure it. Men will actively prevent women from rising to the top if they can."

Positive discrimination is just a start~ and later things could be changed, when companies catch up and face reality. There are plenty of well-educated, and WELL-QUALIFIED women, who are just as CAPABLE as men in the Boardroom. As people's ATTITUDES change and GENDER equality in opportunities is achieved as a way of life, things will settle, and women and men will be seen as employees at work, and not necessarily male or female.

If nothing is done as far as legislation, and ways to ENFORCE laws; then the status quo will remain the same, and women will forever get a raw deal in life.

Common people, let's move on with the times. Give women a chance! Let's give our sisters and daughters a chance!

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Woolwell

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Sweet-Tea - I'm very willing to give women a chance. When I was working I introduced women into a department which previously was all male but I don't believe in giving women a position in a board room just because they are female and that is what the quota system may do. People need to be given jobs on merit.

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Sweet-Tea

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Woolwell~ The QUOTA system would just a beginning; and I'm sure that women brought into the Boardroom would be recruited on MERIT. As time goes on, attitudes will change.

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Forum Editor

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Woolwell

"I don't believe in giving women a position in a board room just because they are female and that is what the quota system may do."

That was precisely the argument that raged in Norway when the quota law was first introduced, but in fact it turned out not to be a problem at all - there were plenty of women already in senior positions who were being held back by male opposition to women in the boardroom.

As I said earlier, there hasn't been a single complaint from any of the Norwegian trade associations - women board members are often better qualified than the men, and that's being reflected in the fact that the percentage of female directors in Norway is now higher than the quota requires.

The problem for other countries is that the Norwegian experience indicates a need for legislative pressure, otherwise it isn't going to happen.

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natdoor

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FE

"I don't have the answer, but there must be one." Sex change operation?

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morddwyd

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"an attempt to level the playing field for women"

You do not level a playing field by building a bigger hill at the other end!

No reasonable person doubts the existence of the glass ceiling, but, despite all the arguments and illustrations made to the contrary, I remain unconvinced that discrimination (forget positive and all the other euphemisms, discrimination, whether against or in favour, is still discrimination) is the way to break it.

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Woolwell

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I'm against any kind of discrimination. Having at least 40% is positive discrimination but is still discrimination. It builds resentment as people get jobs not according to their ability or perceived ability.

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