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10 Jun 2014

Employment

Welsh law firm welcomes quota decision delay

A South Wales law firm has welcomed moves to postpone an EU vote on quotas in the boardroom as it believes that the majority of Welsh business people are against the proposal.

Newport-based HardingEvans carried out its own online survey into the issue and found that 77% of those questioned would rather not see the quotas introduced, preferring instead to feel that places in the boardroom are hard earned.

The current EU proposal would make it mandatory for all publically traded companies to fill 40 percent of their board seats with women by 2020 or face sanctions and fines.

Joy Phillips, Practice Director at HardingEvans said: “This is a hugely emotive issue which always invokes passionate responses from both men and women. We had such a variety of comments but the overwhelming response seemed to be that women want to be recognised on their merit, not their gender.

“From my point of view I believe that quotas alone aren’t the answer. For true equality we need to be looking towards Norway, a country often described as a ‘haven for gender equality’ where state funded maternity leave and kindergartens enable women to go back to work more easily after having children.

“While there were some who rightly pointed out that even though a meritocracy is the ideal, it clearly isn’t taking us far enough, the majority felt that they wouldn’t want to be on a board knowing that they hadn’t earned their place there. Others referred to the failure of women only election lists and referred to people like Meg Whitman and Marissa Meyer who are hugely successful women in their own right, getting where they have without quotas.

“The wide range of comments we had on this issue show that this is a debate which will run and run. Ultimately the final decision on this will be out of our hands but I am pleased to see this debate back on the agenda.”

The proposed quotas come following followed research that revealed just one in seven board members at Europe’s top companies is female, and it would take more than 40 years to reach a significant gender balance at the current rate.

If the commissioners agree with the new plan, it will be put to the European Parliament which will then vote on whether to make the quotas mandatory across the EU.

The next announcement will be on 14th November.

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