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Eversheds comment: Women on Boards legislation could cause UK legal minefield

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    Commenting on the release of the Lord Davies report into Women on Boards on Wednesday, Simon Rice-Birchall, partner at law firm Eversheds, says:

    “The latest figures are expected to show that the voluntary approach in the UK, driven by Lord Davies’ recommendations and annual reviews, is delivering results. “However, companies cannot afford to be complacent. The EU Commission and Parliament have been unimpressed by the pace of change and the threat of legislation has been looming for some time. The Commission thinks listed companies should be aiming for at least 40% female representation amongst non-executive directors and has proposed a new regime that would force companies falling short of the target to select a woman for a vacancy in preference to a man, when faced with a choice between equally qualified candidates.

    “This would leave companies with a legal minefield to navigate, having to tread a fine and imprecise line between complying with the new requirements and avoiding sex discrimination against male candidates. A number of countries, including the UK, have opposed the measure, blocking its progress. However, as more and more member states opt to bring in their own quota laws, that resistance may well start to wane.”


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