Companies listed on stock exchanges in the EU would have to bring in transparent recruitment procedures so that by 2020, at least 40% of their non-executive directors are women, under a draft EU directive voted for by the EU Parliament on 20 November. The draft directive has been approved following an analysis which shows that only 17.6% of non-executive board members of the EU's largest companies were women. The rules would not apply to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), i.e. those that employ fewer than 250 persons. Where candidates are equally well qualified, priority should go to the candidate of the under-represented sex. Companies that fail to abide by the rules will be required to explain why and notify national authorities on the measures taken and plans to achieve the target in future. Penalties such as fines should be imposed for failing to follow transparent appointment procedures, rather than for failing to achieve the target. To take effect, the directive needs to be endorsed by the Council of Ministers.
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