Lords debate women on boards report

12 November 2012

Following last week’s publication of the EU Committee’s report, Women on Boards, the House of Lords will be debating the issue of whether the EU should impose quotas on the number of women businesses must employ at board and executive level, on Tuesday 13 November.

The debate will take place the day on the eve of the EU’s expected announcement of legislation to tackle gender inequality in the corporate world.

The Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment EU Sub-Committee made several recommendations in their report including introducing reporting on the proportion of women at every level of the workforce at a national level and implementing the UK’s code of conduct for executive search firms on a voluntary basis across the EU.

Baroness O’Cathain (Conservative), who tabled the debate and will speak first, said:

“More balanced boards are to everybody’s benefit and, although the Committee welcomes the positive steps already taken by many Member States to ensure more gender-balanced boards and senior management teams – particularly in the UK – the number of women at the top remains far too low. However, we are not persuaded that the only way to stimulate change is through the introduction of EU quotas.

“I look forward to this House’s debate on the report, as the Committee believes that, by working together in partnership, the Government and the EU can ensure that all of the talent in our jobs market is used to the full, regardless of gender, without the need for imposed quotas.” 

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

  • Baroness Noakes, Director of companies including Carpetright plc, Severn Trent plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc;
  • Lord Moynihan (Conservative), former Chairman of the British Olympic Association;
  • Baroness Thornton (Labour/Co-operative), Spokesperson for the Equalities Office;
  • Baroness Dean of Thornton-Le-Fylde (Labour), Non-executive Director for Taylor Wimpey plc and National Air Traffic Services;
  • Baroness Ford (Labour), Non-Executive Director, Director and Chairman for companies including May Gurney Group Limited and Barchester Healthcare Ltd; and
  • Lord Freeman (Conservative), Director and Chairman of companies including ITM Power plc and Big DNA Ltd.

Lord Haskel (Labour), Baroness Young of Hornsey (Crossbench), Lord Clinton-Davis (Labour), Baroness Scott of Needham Market (Liberal Democrat), Lord Patten (Conservative), Lord Smith of Clifton (Liberal Democrat) and Lord Kakkar (Crossbench) are also expected to take part in the debate.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston (Conservative) will respond on behalf of the Government.

The debate, expected to start at around 7.30pm, is an opportunity for members of the Committee and the House to discuss recommendations made in the report, as well as recent developments in this area.

The report, Women on Boards, published on 9 November 2012, can be found on the website.

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