S&D Euro MPs welcomed the introduction of EU-wide binding quotas to ensure that women make up 40% of company boards by 2020.
The proposal was made today by the European Commission and will be discussed today in a special hearing organised by the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament.
Head of the S&D Group, Hannes Swoboda said:
"This proposal has been strongly supported by the Socialists and Democrats and the European Parliament. This is a good day for women across Europe.
"The Socialists and Democrats will fight for a strong EU law that includes serious sanctions for companies that don't respect the goal of getting 40% women on their boards," he warned.
S&D Group vice-president Corina Creţu said:
"The European Union has been attempting to increase the number of women on boards through voluntary action for nearly a decade now. Today, our struggle for stronger action has finally achieved a positive result. The European directive on increasing the presence of the under-represented sex on corporate boards of companies listed on stock exchanges will help Europe to improve its economic growth, competitiveness and employment rate.
"Today only 13.7% of board members of major companies listed on the stock exchange are women. A large proportion of university graduates are women and we are wasting their talents.
"Unfortunately, the voluntary scheme to improve the gender balance in senior management has failed. However we have seen positive results in France, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Norway and Belgium when quota laws were introduced. We believe that there are many talented and qualified women to fill these top-level jobs."
S&D Group spokeswoman on gender balance Britta Thomsen said:
"In the current financial and economic crisis, we have to make full use of our workforce and their skills.
"Many studies reveal that financial performance in companies with at least one woman in a leadership role is considerably higher than in companies with no female board members."
The S&D Group seminar 'Women on boards' will be held today from 3pm to 6.30pm in ASP 3G3 in the European Parliament.
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