The Women on Boards DirectiveOpens in new window is the next in a series of ESG-related measures moving quickly through the EU legislative process. This time, the focus is on the boardroom. With domestic transposition up next, and with indications that the regime may, in time, extend to non-listed companies, Matheson looks at the changes lying ahead.
The directive revives and recasts an EU initiative first proposed in 2012. The proposal aims to improve gender balance on the boards of listed companies and reflects a drive by the EU, over the past decade, to address gender equality in economic decision-making. Most Irish listed companies are already engaging with these themes. The directive, however, marks a discernable gear shift in the campaign to achieve gender balance at board level.
The directive was adopted by the EU Council of Ministers on 17 October 2022 and by the European Parliament on 22 November 2022. The directive must next be published in the Official Journal of the EU and 20 days after that, it becomes law. Ireland, and other Member States, will then have two years to transpose the directive into national law. The transposition process will involve important policy deliberations. The Irish government has already signalled its support for the principles underlying the directive, reflecting its broader and ongoing commitment to ensuring more diverse and inclusive workplaces. In Dáil debates concerning the Irish Corporate Governance (Gender Balance) Bill (a Private Members' Bill which is unlikely to progress further), the government indicated that its focus, for the time being, would be on developments at EU level.
As the shape of the new regime begins to come into clearer focus, and with indications that the regime may, in time, extend to non-listed companies, Matheson looks at the changes ahead.
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