Under Articles 20 and 23 of the Treaty on European Union and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; equality between women and men is a fundamental right. As signed and proclaimed by the Presidents of the European Parliament in persons in March 2010, Articles 20 & 23 pp.C83 /395 – C84/396. The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, including the rights of belonging to minorities. Today, more females than males graduate from universities and since time began; more women than ever before participate in Europe's labour force, ‘Fawcett Society, Mould the Mould’,(2008). Despite around 60% of university graduates being female, women in the UK and Europe’s biggest listed companies only represent 13.7% of executive board members and 2.5% of board presidents, Women on Boards in Europe, (feb2013). The targets set by the European Commission, is for there to be 30% of women in the boardroom by 2015 and 40% by 2020, ‘European commission, 40% Objectives’ (2012). By eradicating the current imbalance in the boardrooms it would strengthen the European Commission's commitment to making equality between women and men a reality. In 2011 the Vice President of the European Commission, Viviane Reading, launched an initiative to increase women’s representation in the boardroom, women on the Boardroom Pledge (2012). She called upon European companies to take on a voluntary commitment to increase gender diversity. ‘Sandel, M’. (2009) ch 7 P.171. As it seems as though, in the male-dominated boardrooms of business and parliament a very libertarianism approach is being played out in contrast to an expecting egalitarian liberal society, ‘Sandel. M , (2009) ch7, p.61.
A recent international survey conducted and analysised by Heidrick & Struggle; revealed 45% of male directors still believe the reason the number of women around the boardroom table has barely changed is due to a lack of qualified candidates. Whereas, 32% of female directors against on 2% of male directors believe gender played a significant role in their boardroom appointment. Bloomberg L.P. (media multinational) surveyed fifty global corporate organisations on the Dow Jones and found only Procter & Gamble as a corporate organisation had achieved the European Commission’s guideline of 40% of Women in the Boardroom, Bloomberg News, (2012). In all of the European countries that make up the Union, not one country has been able to implement or achieved the 40% directive. Although, Norway which is not part of EU; has been able to achieve it. Even in parliament; the now Prime minister, Dave Cameron has lost confidence with women according to recent opinion polls. Eighteen months ago at his parties’ political conference the prime minister was courting not only the female vote, but ensuring as coalition leader, he headed a government which promoted gender equality. The recent cabinet reshuffle has reduced the numbers of “full-time women Cabinet ministers” from five to four. ‘Watts. H’, Telegraph Newspaper, (2012). If the corporate boardrooms of international business are to take any guidance on the directive set by the European Commission under Article 20 &23 of the Treaty on European Union, by the way parliament is leading on this; then the challenges ahead are going to be sluggish. The statistical information provided shows women are under-represented in the decision-making process, both on management boards of large corporate organisations and in parliament. ‘Women in Boardroom’ (2012) p3.
If women are to shatter the glass ceilings that hinder our most senior women executives from acceding in the boardroom, this antiquated behaviour has to cease. A more straight-forward approach for businesses in the 21st Century is to understand that a more diverse boardroom is a more reflective perspective of its customer base. In addition to