What's the Latest Development?
After weeks of arguments for and against, last week the European Union approved a draft law that will increase the number of women working at various levels in Europe's 5,000 publicly-traded companies. It is a less comprehensive version of the one commissioner Viviane Reding presented earlier this year that was blocked in September, but it still requires approval from the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, the latter of which consists of the leaders of the 27 member states. Both Germany and the UK have expressed opposition to a gender quota law.
What's the Big Idea?
If passed, the law will require that women occupy 40 percent of the places on non-executive boards by 2020, and that women be given preference in companies where they are underrepresented if candidates' professional qualifications are the same. Currently, according to a press release, men make up approximately 85 percent of non-executive boards and over 90 percent of executive boards, which will not be affected by the law. Opponents believe that, rather than force companies to comply with legislation, a non-binding "flexi-quota" should be adopted instead, allowing self-regulation within the corporate sector.
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