Should There Be Female Quotas for Corporate Boards?

Should There Be Female Quotas for Corporate Boards?

Would it help close the wage gap to mandate that a certain number of women be on corporate board? The Jane Dough explores the issue:

There is a proposal circulating through the European commission this month to mandate that at least 40% of non-executive members on corporate boards be female. The proposal has been led by the EU’s justice commissioner Viviane Reding, who is pushing for a more gender representative board makeup for public and private companies by 2018 and 2020, respectively.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The proposal focuses on the procedure that companies use to select board members.If a company has made sufficient efforts to promote women to senior positions, it may not face sanctions, even if it falls short of the goal, according to the proposal. In cases of equally qualified candidates, companies will have to give the advantage to the underrepresented gender—usually women.

Ms. Reding’s “solution is to only permit the appointment of women who are as equally qualified as the men, unless a justification exists such as where women make up less than 10% of the workforce,” said Naeema Choudry, a partner and discrimination law expert at law firm Eversheds. “In reality, this will require a comparative analysis of the qualifications of each candidate and the application of clear, gender-neutral and unambiguous criteria—an exercise which is fraught with risk and difficulties in practice.”

Interestingly, many women who were interviewed at the Financial News’s 100 Most Influential Women Awards on the subject of the proposed quota were more skeptical of its ability to be implemented successfully. Though they were some of the most powerful women in finance, who likely spent much of their careers with few other women at their level, they described quotas as “last resorts” which could hinder a company’s freedom and flexibility. You can see some of their answers in this video on The Jane Dough. And tell us what you think in the comments—area quotas helpful or hurtful in getting more women into the boardroom?

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