European lawmakers said the long-awaited adoption of these rules is a ‘breakthrough in gender equality’.
Under a new EU law, companies will have to ensure that a third of their directors are women by 2026. For non-executive directors, the figure will be 40pc.
The European Parliament formally adopted the law this week as part of the EU’s commitment to fostering gender diversity in business and boosting the number of women on corporate boards.
Member states will have two years to transpose the law into their own national laws once it has entered into force in the coming weeks.
The law was first tabled by the European Commission in 2012. However, some members of the European Council were not convinced that binding measures at EU level were the best course of action for gender diversity on boards.
After a decade of discussions, an agreement was reached between the European Parliament and European Council earlier this year.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and her colleagues commissioners Věra Jourová and Helena Dalli described the adoption as “a long-awaited moment, a moment to be celebrated as a breakthrough in gender equality”.
“After 10 years since its proposal by the European Commission, we will now have an EU law to break the glass ceiling of listed companies boards. There are plenty of women qualified for top jobs and with our new European law, we will make sure that they have a real chance to get them.”
This week, a report by the Balance for Better Business group revealed that Ireland had exceeded the EU average for the proportion of women on boards.
The percentage of women on the boards of Ireland’s top 20 listed companies rose to 36pc in 2022. This was 1.6 percentage points over the average of the 27 EU countries, and higher than the targets set for listed Irish companies this year.
It came after a report from the Institute of Directors in Ireland suggested that as many as 71pc of Irish business leaders are in favour of targets rather than quotas when it comes to achieving gender diversity on boards.
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