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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Major companies respond to Women on the Board call

(Creative Commons)

Today two major companies made a voluntary commitment to increase women’s presence on their corporate boards. Guerlain SA and FES Consulting Empresarial have signed the voluntary pledge to boost female boardroom positions to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, making the announcement, expressed her firm desire that "others will now follow their lead and sign up to the Women on the Board Pledge for Europe."

Paris-based Guerlain SA, founded in 1828, is among the oldest perfume houses in the world, creating fragrances such as Samsara. Guerlain remained a family business until it was acquired by LVMH in 1994. FES Consulting Empresarial, founded in 1991 and based in Barcelona, advises small- and medium-sized companies in taxation, legal and fiscal matters.

The Commission Vice President's announcement came on the day she met Germany's Labour Minister, Ursula von der Leyen. Ms Reding welcomed the German minister's support in discussions about the best methods to get more women into leading positions.

"Having more women on the board is good for business and good for the economy," said the Vice President. Figures from 2010 show that only 12% of board members at Europe's largest companies are women. In 97% of cases the board is chaired by a man. Moreover, change is very slow. As a result, publicly-listed companies in the EU keep on losing out on female talent.