Women on Boards: Report from the UK
European Company Law, Vol. 8, No. 2-3, pp 94-99, 2011
10 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2011 Last revised: 10 Aug 2011
Date Written: March 2, 2011
There has been a lot of talk about the topic of women in company boardrooms in the UK over the last couple of years. Whilst the point is debatable, there is enough research evidence available to suggest that a more heterogeneous board would be more likely to take a broader perspective and take wider interests into account and might therefore also be beneficial to the company's interest in the longer term. From a gender equality perspective also, there is widespread agreement in the UK that the situation is not acceptable but what to do about it remains a point of contention. Should the UK follow the examples of Norway and Spain, and likely soon France and the Netherlands also, or should we adopt less radical measures? The government has indicated a willingness to do something and the current consultation on the issue is due to lead to recommendations in February. However, press reports suggest that, whilst the Chair of the Consultation, Lord Davies of Abersoch, has not ruled out the introduction of quotas like those in Norway and Spain, they are unlikely and are viewed really only as a last resort. Lord Davies is reported to be considering the recommendation of alternative measures, such as more open recruitment processes or a 'comply or explain' provision in the Corporate Governance Code. This brief article looks at the current available statistics in the UK and the consultation process. It suggests that whilst quotas might not be imminent, in the longer term they may be inevitable.
The author is a member of the project team of the Sustainable Companies project at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo.
Keywords: company law, gender equality, boards, UK law
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