WOMEN IN POWER? (I)
Only 17.23% of Spanish companies listed on the IBEX 35 have women on their boards of directors
We analyze the new legislative initiative in Spain, as well as the European debate on gender parity on the board of directors of companies
On 27th May 2014, the Spanish Government approved the Draft Law on Corporate Governance of Corporate Enterprises, which includes provisions aimed at achieving greater gender equality within these corporate enterprises.
Panorama of European legislative gender parity
In the EU context, Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding made a proposal in 2012 for a European Directive on the obligation to establish quotas on boards of publicly traded companies, with the aim of achieving a female presence of 40% in these governing bodies by 2020. However, two groups of countries with close to conflicting views on the best way to implement these positive discrimination policies have emerged, and this has hindered the adoption of the legislative proposal.
On the one hand, one group of countries led by the United Kingdom, and including other countries such as Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic considers that the regulation of this matter by the EU authorities is a clear interference in national politics, and that, indeed, this matter should be left to self-regulation by companies.
On the other hand, some countries, like France, are in favor of regulation by public authorities. Thus, in 2011, the Gallic country passed the Equality Act, which requires that by 2017, the proportion of female directors in large companies – whether or not these are listed Company – be a minimum of 40%.
However, the paradigmatic case is that of Norway. Despite not being part of the European Union, it deserves special consideration. With the adoption in 2003 of the Law on Limited Liability Companies, companies are required to ensure a presence of women of at least 40% on boards of directors, with drastic measures like no possibility of registration for companies incorporated since 2006 that have not met this requirement, or the winding up of those in 2008 that have not reached it. The positive effects of the law are clear: in 2012, 44% of large companies in Norway had already met this 40% limit.
The recently approved Draft Law in Spain provides that a committee set the target representation for the underrepresented sex, and facilitate the appointment of women in the selection processes carried out by Directors. However, the draft legislation does not establish either time limits or penalties for non-compliance, reestablishing simple recommendations as did the previous legislation.