Lord Davies, the former business minister is considering proposals for FTSE 100 companiesto be forced to appoint more women to their boards. Quotas of as much as 40% in the boardrooms of companies are being considered in an effort to more than double the female presence. Fiona Bolton,partner at international law firm Eversheds, comments:

“At present, it is not legally possible for UK businesses to bind themselves to fixed quotas specifying the minimum number of women they will have on their board. However, that restriction could well be lifted in the future. Even if Lord Davies stops short of recommending fixed quotas, the European Commission could well step in to force companies to address the proportion of women on their boards. This Summer the EU’s Fundamental Rights Commissioner, Viviane Reding, warned companies that if they do not improve the gender balance on their boards, Europe-wide legislation may be introduced to force the pace of change, possibly including compulsory fixed quotas.

“Although any new regulations could be some way down the line, if fixed quotas are introduced the demand for top level female talent will increase across Europe. Businesses need to take a close look at their talent development and retention programmes now to ensure they are doing enough to nurture the careers of those women who could be the directors of the future.”