The European Union is edging closer to introducing a new law which would see a mandatory minimum number of female members on a company board in a bid to increase gender equality in the workplace.
It said that companies have failed to pay attention to calls to voluntarily increase levels of equality in board rooms over the past year, so it is now preparing to step in as a result.
The EU's justice commissioner, Viviane Reding has bemoaned the fact that at the current slow rate of improvement with regards gender equality, it would take somewhere in the region of 40 years for the number of women on the boards of private firms to reach just 40 per cent of the level as men.
She said: "One year ago, I asked companies to voluntarily increase women's presence on corporate boards.
"However, I regret to see that despite our calls, self-regulation so far has not brought about satisfactory results."
The European Union has said that at the current time there are less than 14 per cent of board members at companies across the continent who are women, a small rise when compared to the 12 per cent reported in 2012. Furthermore, it revealed that only 24 companies have signed up to a pledge to increase gender equality.
This voluntary pledge states that they will ensure 30 per cent of their board members are female by 2015, with 40 per cent being the target for 2020.
This pledge comes as EU high representative Catherine Ashton said on International Women's Day (March 8th) that there is still a long way to go before gender equality is achieved.
Increasing the number of women on boards can be of substantial benefits to a company, as having a more gender-balanced regime can lead to much more reasoned conversations, while female employees may also be less likely to become embroiled in bitter disputes, aiding conflict resolution.
Posted by Alex Donnell