The impact of the Women in Advice Directive.

The European Parliament and the Council finally reached an agreement on June 7 on the Women on Boards Directive, which requires a gender balance on the boards of directors of listed companies. Proposed in 2012, it still took decades of discussions to determine whether this issue should be addressed at European level. Some Member States, such as the Netherlands or Germany, did not wait for the outcome of the debate to take the initiative to adopt similar national legislation.

As this directive must be transposed into national law by 2024, this directive sets a minimum threshold for the representation of 40% of women in non-executive directorships. In addition, listed companies will be able to combine a 33% quota for women among CEOs and non-CEOs.

Educating that quotas should be used, Stephanie Ferring, a partner at Clifford Chance Luxembourg, still said it was “a good tool to help change the situation quickly”. Responsible for her company’s “Committee on Diversity and Inclusion”, she noted the growing importance of gender mainstreaming in the financial and legal sectors in recent years. “We see this both in our firm and in the international companies we work with: interest in diversity in all its forms is growing.”

Regardless of the law

The issue of gender diversity within teams has even become key to obtaining contracts. “For our customers, the diversity of their service providers’ teams has become an expectation when submitting proposals,” explains Stephanie Ferring, adding: “Regardless of the law, promoting diversity is now an unavoidable reality for many companies.”

Even if the European directive is aimed only at boards of directors, Stephanie Ferring sees the possibility of gender diversification at all levels of companies. “In companies in the financial sector, gender equality is fairly well represented at the beginning of their careers,” she says. On the other hand, over time, “many societies lose women as soon as they have a child.” That’s why “it’s important to create women’s ‘talent pools’ and show the high potential of women as soon as they are hired to help keep them going.”

“role models”

“Intention is not enough,” said Stephanie Ferring, emphasizing that the acquisition of specific funds remains important. “We need to have more role models for women in leadership positions, such as women who have children and who show that family life can be combined with professional responsibilities.” In this respect, it encourages the development of kinship networks, such as the Luxembourg Ladies in Law Association (LILLA).

In this way, Stephanie Ferring wants to illustrate that the business world can be a force for initiatives that go beyond the law. ‚ÄúDuring recruitment interviews, more and more young candidates are asking us what we have implemented in terms of diversity and inclusion. Ten years ago, no one would have asked such questions. ” Similarly, many employees want to benefit from “mentoring” to get more personal approval. To do this, many companies in the financial sector use external coaches.

Prior to generalizing such provisions within companies, the Women on Board Directive provides for the monitoring of relevant companies. In case of non-compliance, the company will be obliged to disclose the reasons, as well as to inform about the measures taken to eliminate it. Companies that violate the rules may also be fined or completely revoked by the relevant director.