Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges

Delivered in Plenary - 20 November 2013

Madam President, at the 100 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, just 19 % of the board members are women. This may be a cause for concern, but I cannot accept that the best means of rectifying it is the imposition of mandatory quotas offering a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. We have seen the negative effects of such policies in Norway, where there is a feeling that women have been appointed as acts of tokenism, rather than on genuine merit. This is beneficial neither to women, nor to efficient enterprise.

Voluntary-based schemes which work around individual companies, business models and countries should instead be encouraged and prioritised. This allows the right balance between ensuring that candidates are selected entirely on individual merit, whilst working towards a wider aim of improving gender balance. Therefore, I voted against this report on mandatory quotas.