Women currently make up only 10% of the directors of the largest listed companies in the EU and only 3% of the CEOs of such companies are women. It will take another fifty years before boardrooms have at least 40% of each gender, says a resolution on women and business leadership drafted by Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou (EPP, EL) and adopted today by 26 votes to 0 with 7 abstentions.
Binding EU legislation to increase female representation in high-level positions
MEPs call on the Commission to "propose legislation including quotas by 2012 for increasing female representation in corporate management bodies of enterprises to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020".
The Commission is also asked to present a road map containing measurable and attainable targets to achieve balanced representation in firms of all sizes.
Management positions for qualified women and men
Recruitment for positions in corporate management bodies should be based on skills, qualifications and experience of the candidate, says the Women's Rights Committee.
At the same time, Member States should introduce special arrangements, such as childcare, care for the elderly and tax breaks for companies or other ways to help women and men in business to balance family and work commitments.
Women entrepreneurship in smaller companies
In the European Union, only 1 in 10 women are entrepreneurs as opposed to 1 in 4 men, points out the second resolution, drafted by Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR, UK) and adopted by 29 votes to 0 with 4 abstentions.
MEPs believe the Commission, Member States and regional and local authorities should make better use of the funding opportunities available to female entrepreneurs through special grants, venture capital, social security provisions and interest rate rebates. These include the European Progress Microfinance Facility, which provides micro-loans of up to €25,000 to micro-enterprises and to people who wish to start up their own business but who do not have access to traditional banking services, such as the unemployed.
Sharing experiences and training for young entrepreneurs
The Women's Rights Committee wants the Commission to promote the exchange of best practice to encourage entrepreneurship amongst women and to propose an action plan to increase their numbers.
The EU entrepreneur exchange programme 'Erasmus for young entrepreneurs', which offers budding businesspeople the chance to work for up to 6 months with an experienced entrepreneur in another EU country, should be more widely promoted, believes the committee.
Both draft resolutions will be put to a plenary vote in July 2011.
On the Chair: Eva-Britt SVENSSON (GUE/NGL, SE)