By Sebastian Bodu - 24th January 2013
Sebastian Bodu argues that flexible quotas should be tried first, rather than going straight for mandatory measures.
The commission's current proposal regarding the increase in the number of women on both executive and non-executive bodies of public companies comes as an answer to the question of underrepresentation of female gender in such bodies - a fact that is, probably, unanimously accepted. But the subject raised many discussions and statements because of the means of achieving this goal.
So the debate was raised around the question of quotas. Should we leave women to find their way to the executive and non-executive bodies in a natural way? Or do we need quotas? If we do, should such quotas be mandatory or flexible? My opinion is that we need legislative tools but I think that mandatory quotas are unreasonable without trying flexible quotas first. The UK introduced flexible quotas in their code of conduct and it works. It is a system that on one hand leads to an increase of female representation and on the other hand, does not discourage meritocracy. I don't think that business women, nor their fathers, especially those who are already on the board of directors, are happy knowing that a promotion was made as a consequence of the law and not by merit.
Legally speaking, as long as public companies elect their board of directors by cumulative vote, I don’t understand how we can sanction the company, as a legal person, for a vote of the shareholders. Shareholders do not vote for a list but for each candidate, one by one, by allocating votes to a certain person, man or woman.
You cannot impose on the shareholder how they should direct the vote because it would be an infringement of the property right on the voting shares.
Sebastian Bodu is a vice-chair of parliament's legal committee