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Women still find the road to success blocked in the business world. And attitudes differ widely across Europe. In Malta, just 3% of board members are women, 18% in the UK, while in Finland, it’s 27%.

A new proposal aims for a 40% female presence on the non-executive boards of all EU publicly-listed companies.

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights:
“It is a selection on the basis of competence. It is not a woman because she is a woman but a woman because she is good, a good professional that knows how to do her job.”

The proposed measures would only affect stock exchange-listed EU companies. Small and medium-sized enterprises and non-listed companies would remain untouched under the terms. Up to 5,000 companies across the EU could be affected. Many are convinced it would be a good start.

Edite Estrela, Portuguese socialist MEP:
“The proposal could be more ambitious, it could go further. But it’s a first step towards balancing the gender representation in the boardrooms of stock exchange-listed companies. And I agree that small and medium-sized enterprises should be exempt, because it’s not easy for this sector to accommodate that sort of gender representation.”

Some countries like France are pushing for a bigger female presence.

But others, including the UK and Germany are against forced quotas for women on corporate boards.

That glass ceiling may be chipped, but it’s far from broken.

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