Women on Boards: new EU binding rules to increase gender balance in companies 

All big publicly listed companies in the EU will have to take measures to boost women’s presence at their helm.

The so-called “Women on Boards” Directive, which MEPs will debate on Tuesday morning, will introduce transparent recruitment procedures in companies, to ensure that at least 40% of non-executive director posts or 33% of all director posts are occupied by the under-represented sex by July 2026. Small and medium-sized enterprises (those with fewer than 250 employees) will be excluded from the scope of the directive.

Under the new rules, member states will have to introduce dissuasive and proportionate penalties, such as fines, for companies that fail to comply with open and transparent appointment procedures. A judicial body could also annul the board of directors selected by the company if it breaches the principles of the Directive.

Once formally approved by the Parliament, the Directive will enter into force 20 days after it has been published in the EU’s Official Journal. Member states would need to implement the rules within two years.

Today, only 30.6% of board members in the EU’s largest publicly listed companies are women, with significant differences among member states (from 45.3% in France to 8.5% in Cyprus).


Procedure Code: 2012/0299 (COD)

Procedure: ordinary legislative procedure, second reading

Debate: Tuesday 22 November