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This week saw a major victory in the UK courts that saw many women as being victims of discrimination by a local authority.

Some commentators argue that the only way to achieve true equality is to start at the top and one such is EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding who is pushing for a vote on a proposed law which would force companies to keep 40% of positions on their supervisory boards for women. After a minor setback, the vote will now take place 14 November.

One commentator, Pinsent Masons corporate partner Martin Webster is reported in legalweek.com as saying ‘Viviane Reding is not giving up, she has significant support in the European Parliament.’

I have always been a keen advocate of getting more women into the Boardroom and have found that once firms identify a talented individual, grasp them regardless of gender. So part of me argues, does the UK really need a law to set a quota?

I see EU countries as each having different needs in this regard, as evidences by the ways in which each state enacts the Directives from Europe. Perhaos this is in recognition of the different cultural ways in which the role of women is viewed and that might run contrary to my own principles. But if this is a country specific issue, then why set a single goal on a pan European basis?

I also question the EU approach from one of competence, I simply cannot think of an EU quota that has actually achieved it’s stated objectives without causing demonstrable harm elsewhere. I can already see the future newsheet headlines proclaiming “UK dumps mountains of talent!”

I also agree with those who ask, is Europe sufficiently harmonised enough to be ready for this one size fits all approach to a very complex social issue?

This is not a debate about whether to continue progress but about how to continue the progress but as Stephen Parish (chairman of law firm Norton Rose) asks, do we need “a degree of artificiality?”

On the other hand, I see that women are often not selected and the reason can be obscure, discriminatory, poor recruitment/selection, procedural or just plainly absurd. But those issues are best tackled type by type, as we have set about tackling discrimination.

Few would argue that change is not happening; it is the pace that worries me. In this regard I would say it was not politicians who brought about the vote for women, it was courageous men and women. The same can be said of all discrimination, effective changes comes when minds are changed by those brave enough to speak out converting those brave enough to change for good. That delivers sustainable and meaningful solutions. Not this blunt approach favoured by quata mandarins.

I have one more concern and that is that this entire EU position is one of political

I am a nay sayer on this issue. I say no to quotas but call upon women and those in senior HR roles to keep up that pressure for change at the one place where it matters; the Boardrooms of Europe.

If I was cynical I could even view this as just some political shenanigans within the EU  we will see!
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