Ms Lorraine Spiteri, a member of the Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations(MCWO) was invited as an independent expert to participate to a European Commission Seminar on “Women in Economic Decision Making” held in Oslo Norway on the 10-11 May 2012. Dr Romina Bartolo, Director of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) was also invited. Key Experts from other participating countries namely, Norway, Denmark, UK, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the Netherlands, also participated in the discussion about gender quotas on corporate boards and how female board room representation can be improved. Each key expert presented a paper giving a brief assessment of the country’s policy context, the economic circumstances and institutional background. This was followed by a discussion about good practices which some countries had already implemented including mandatory or self regulating quotas.
Presently a consultation process is underway through the European Commission after EU Justice Commissioner Reding appealed to publicly listed companies across EU member states to prove that self-regulation could work in increasing the number of women on boards. At the end of the discussion, it was felt that quotas will work better when embedded in a comprehensive policy which will be well designed and monitored, supported by a strong work life balance and a better social and cultural consensus. Although the current economic crisis may have its effect on this debate, it could also be considered as an opportunity for change. Undoubtedly quotas require a long term effort from multiple stakeholders and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Concluding the seminar, Ms Arni Hole, General Director, Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion of Norway said that this is a ‘genders issue and not a gender issue and certainly a case of fairness but also of economy since we are losing on talent and resources.’
The countries’ papers including Malta’s are published at: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/