Reding stirs up the debate on women quota in Europe again

At the beginning of 2012 only 3.2% of executive positions in publicly listed companies in Europe were filled with women.  Last year EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called for European’s largest companies to fill their executive boards with women. However, it didn’t generate the desired result. Far from it! Only 24 companies signed the “Women on the Board” pledge. This pledge aims to increase the number of women in executive positions up to 30% by 2012 and 40% by 2020. Not a single German company was among them. Now Reding wants to develop concrete proposals for a Europe-wide gender quota for large companies by summer 2012. Norway can be classified as a successful model in introducing a similar mandatory quota.


But there is already notably resistance to a legally binding quota. The German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder refuses to be dictated with the terms of the European Union although German commentators agree that there is a lack in the gender equality in the professional world. However, they are at one with Schroeder because they believe that a quota is not the best solution.

On one hand there are many points to argue against a gender quota. If the companies agree to the pledge they have to employ many women within the next 3 years which leads to a preferential treatment.  Furthermore the nation has to create programs which offer women the opportunities to combine their professional life with family life. In most of the European countries these programs have not been discussed. On the other hand, companies resist on finding a fair solution to dress the balance between executive men and women. The Norwegian example shows that the balance between men and women in companies leads to an increase in transparency and a professionalization of decision-making which in turn is a gain for the companies. This process however may take a long time for companies and it is unclear if they can meet the requirements in such few years.

In conclusion, we can say that most aren’t thrilled about an implementation of quotas, but that they achieve at least the desired results.  Otherwise we have to ask ourselves if it is necessary to achieve the results within such a short period time and if there are as many women who want the same kind of careers as men. The real question is, if Norway can accomplish equality within the workplace why hasn’t the rest of Europe followed?




3 thoughts on “Reding stirs up the debate on women quota in Europe again

  1. In the last couple years there were so many discussions about this topic. It is kind of sad that we really need a mandatory quota for women in executive positions. Why is it not possible to just reflect the world’s population with almost average of men and women? However, in the nowadays working world we see that it is not working without restrictions. Therefore, I think the gender quota is a good thing, since it will increase the demand of qualified women and gives skilled female managers the chance to realize their full potential. Furthermore, it is not only the equal number of female and male members of the executive board what makes the gender quota interesting. It is also the fact, that with this quota, many skilled women are necessary, which results in a high demand of talented female managers. However, there will be only a small number of limited very good skilled women, what gives them the right, to demand higher salaries for their jobs. The discussion about wages can –as well as gender quota- bring women one step further on the way to total gender equality. Of course, it is a long way to get the long discussed gender equity in boards, but in my opinion it is a first step towards an equal labor situation.

  2. In my opinion, for example Germany faces a totally different problem: most of the jobs in leading positions in the economy or in any other industries are rarely compatible with family life. And many young women want both, career and children. Normally the female candidates that decide to start a family and, moreover, want to take care of the own children at times, cannot climb the job ladder. I can understand that many women quit their jobs when they have to choose between career and having a family.

    But this is the central point where companies and politics have to respond. To support women to make career the general conditions have to be improved instead of establishing a quota of women. For example flexible working hours, longer paternity leaves and more places in kindergarten. These examples are not new for either politics or companies. I think that is the right way to get women in leading positions.

  3. In my opinion, these gender quotas for senior positions will not solve the problem. Although it gives an opportunity for women to prove that it is just as good leaders as men, it is simply not reduce the stigma, the woman will come to the office because of the quota, rather than their abilities and professionalism, and those who are prejudiced, it also directly perceive!
    In addition, it will cause other problems, such as gentle to hire some good professional simply because he is a man, but men’s quota is already full.
    Problems can be solved in two ways – friendly and best. Offer to introduce gender quotas in order to address gender discrimination issues, is a lightweight, fast, at first glance seems like a good, but really does not solve the problem solving which is the aim of the quotas, and pose other problems. If you truly have the desire to solve a problem, the first study of its causes, what options have already been invented, how effective they are, or will lead to other problems, and to choose the best.


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