Conservatives reject patronising boardroom quotas

20-Nov-2013 @ 15:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs today voted against EU plans to imposea compulsory female quota of 40 per cent on company boardrooms - with swingeingsanctions for firms that fail to comply.

The proposed directive would oblige all listed companiesto have at least 40 per cent women among their non-executivedirectorships, as well as to publish their gender balance on websites and inannual reports.

Non-compliant companies would face huge fines, exclusionfrom tendering for public-sector contracts, denial of EU funding and evenwinding up.

It was approved after Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPsfailed to oppose it, but Conservatives voted against the proposals as being badfor business and worse for women.

While they agree wholeheartedly that the problem ofunder-representation is real and needs to be addressed, Conservativesbelieve Europe should have no role in dictating the response. Member statesshould be free to decide their own measures.

Conservatives fear a quota system will only lead totokenism and fail to address the underlying problems that hold women back.

Equality spokesman Marina Yannakoudakis, who isConservative negotiator on the proposed legislation, said: "The lastthing we want to do is send a message to women that they will only get to thetop if the law forces it. They want to get there on merit.

"Quotas might address the symptoms but they donothing to treat the disease itself. We instead need more training, moreopportunity, more encouragement for women rather than compulsion for companies.

"A recent survey showed that only six per cent ofbusinesswomen themselves want quotas. They know when they are being patronised.

"A diverse boardroom, freely appointed, is good forbusiness, whether that be reflective of gender, race, religion or whatever.That is why progress will be made. Quotas are no way to get there."

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