EU wants women to hold a third of board seats by 2027

The EU expects companies to prioritise female candidates to boost gender equality on boards by 2027, to ensure at least 33% of seats are held by women

The European Union (EU) wants to ensure that a third of board positions are held by women in the UK by 2027, in a bid to improve the gender balance in senior roles of publicly listed companies.

Member states recently backed a general approach to pursuing EU legislation and started negotiations with the European Parliament. The minimum target outlined that 40% of non-executive director posts should be held by women within a five-year period, or 33%, if all board members are included. 

The European Council shares that any company that fails to reach this target will have to apply clear, neutrally formulated criteria when appointing or electing directors. As of October 2021, women filled an average of 30.6% of board seats at European companies, and only 8.5% of chair positions.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen shared on social media: “With our #WomenOnBoards proposal, we want to break the glass ceiling preventing talented women from acceding to boards. I now look forward to the swift adoption of our proposal.”

The new proposal will ensure that member states see companies prioritising female candidates, especially when choosing between candidates that are equally qualified in terms of competence, suitability and professional performance.

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