EU Agrees on First-Ever Quota for Women on Corporate Boards
Negotiators in the European Union agreed on the bloc's first-ever quota for women on corporate boards, lawmakers said, in a drive to enhance gender equality in the bloc of 450 million people.
By mid-2026, the rule requires listed firms in all 27 EU member nations to have at least 40% of non-executive board seats filled by women or 33% of executive and non-executive jobs combined.
The proposal had been dormant for a decade, but it regained momentum this year with backing from Germany and France.
Gender representation on corporate boards varies widely by nation, with women holding 9% of non-executive seats in Estonia and more than 45% in France. The latter has set its legislative aim of 40% and is the only EU country to achieve it.
Last April, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), an EU agency, stated that enforceable quotas have proven to be more effective in improving board balance than nations that enacted softer measures or none at all.
According to the report, after France, Germany, and Italy set national goals in 2010, female representation on boards in the EU increased. However, progress has slowed recently, with women accounting for less than a third of non-executive board members in the EU's largest publicly traded companies.
While there is no penalty for missing the objective, companies that do meet it will be praised by the public. After the final round of negotiations with EU member states, the parliament's liberal Renew faction stated that this would raise pressure to comply.