Thursday, 9 February 2012

Boardroom targets

We are informed by Tim Ross, the Daily Telegraph's political correspondent, that David Cameron may set targets for women in boardrooms. However, as usual, no-one at the Daily Telegraph has done their research - and if they have they choose to ignore it in order that, yet again, an article can be written that 'bigs-up' David Cameron as a decisive and forceful figure.

This business of women quotas arose this time last year when Deutsche Bank boss Josef Ackermann's comment that a woman's presence on a company board might make meetings "prettier and more colorful" was one of the less constructive contributions to the debate raging in Germany and across Europe about the chronic absence of women serving at the top of major public companies. At the same time German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned German business leaders to "be creative, or we will be creative" and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding stated that quotas might be necessary if businesses don't start to voluntarily comply. If self-regulation fails, legislation on quotas may follow. In fact in March last year EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding met European business leaders to push for more women in boardrooms.
"We need to use all of our society’s talents to ensure that Europe’s economy takes off. This is why the dialogue between the Commission and the social partners is so important. I believe that self-regulation could make a difference if it is credible and effective across Europe. However, I will come back to the matter in a year. If self-regulation fails, I am prepared to take further action at EU level."
The Commission stated in its 2010-15 gender equality strategy that it would address the gender imbalance in business decision-making through targeted initiatives. Commissioner Reding called on publicly listed companies to sign a ‘women on the board pledge’ by March 2012, making a voluntary commitment to increase women’s presence on their boards to 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020, by actively recruiting qualified women to replace outgoing male board members. The Commission will assess in March 2012 whether there has been significant progress and whether ‘credible’ self-regulatory initiatives have been developed to increase women’s participation. If not, it will consider proposing EU legislation on the issue.

So what we have here is not Cameron being decisive and forceful - what we have here is Cameron doing what his masters in Brussels have asked him to do before he is ordered to do it! It would seem that Tim Ross is but doing the same job that Winston Smith was employed to do.

Afterthought: It is doubly sad that Yvette Cooper cannot admit that were she in government, she would have to do exactly the same thing!

No comments: