International Women’s Day 2022: More women in Leadership positions in the EU

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, CEC European Managers focuses today on the situation of female leadership in the EU. CEC has many times defended the principle of an inclusive leadership where the knowledge and skills of all are valued and put to the right use.

As a European Social Partner organisation representing the managerial workforce, our core conviction is to increase the uptake of decision-making positions for women. Managers are greatly concerned by gender equality in the workplace on many levels. Indeed, disparities are directly affecting women managers because they carry the responsibilities of proposing policies to increase the share of women among the rest of the workforce. Over the last few years, the reality of gender equality and the acute need for decisive actions to achieve it has reached the attention of EU policy-makers, one of the goal of the current EU Commission’s President being to make equality and diversity a priority.

Our societies still deal with the disproportionate presence of women in managerial positions and a gender pay gap of 30% in managerial positions. CEC European Managers believes self-regulation is an effective tool to promote changes at company level. Yet today, we must note that progress has stagnated. We think legislative measures that will set binding targets for gender equality at company board level are needed. We strongly encourage this approach to finally close this gap.


Both voluntary and legislative measures are needed to narrow and close one of the the many gaps that still separate men and women: the lower presence of women in leadership positions in Europe. Ebba Öhlund, Treasurer and Chair of the Gender Equality and Diversity Working Group

A long way to go

Back in 2012, the EU Commission presented a proposal for a directive introducing minimum quotas for gender representation on boards of listed companies, the Leadership Positions Directive. The proposal intended to set a minimum of 40% the presence of the under-represented gender among the non-executive directors.

The European Parliament voted in favour of the proposal already in 2013, but it never made it past countries approval as several including Germany argued that it was an issue to tackle at national level. The proposal then remained on hold.  A decade later, at the beginning of 2022, some EU countries that were blocking this proposal confirmed they will no longer oppose this package but would support it.

Recently the French Presidency has declared its intention to deliver on this proposal. France is excelling on promoting gender equality at company level, with 45% of women represented in boardrooms against only 30% at EU level.

The ‘Women on board’ proposal could be discussed during the next EPSCO on March 14th, this is a great advancement after years of immobility in spite the many developments at national levels in the EU zone.