Women on boards: can there be true equality without positive discrimination?
Recent guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission clarifies that the use of female-only shortlists or quotas to encourage more women on corporate boards is unlawful. Although the use of all-female shortlists is permitted by political parties when selecting candidates, their use in the selection of candidates for appointment to company boards would fall foul of the Equality Act 2010.
In February 2011, Lord Davies of Abersoch published his report Women on Boards, which set out a four-year strategy for increasing the number of women appointed to boardroom positions, recommending a minimum of 25 per cent female representation by 2015.
As part of the third annual progress report into Women on Boards earlier in the year, which showed that women now account for 20.7 per cent of board positions in the FTSE 100, minister for women and equalities Maria Miller said: ‘The workplace was designed by men for men. Women don’t need special treatment; they just need a modernised workplace that gives them a level playing field.’ …
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