Spain set to pass law requiring 40% of company boards to be women


Spain’s government will seek to pass a gender parity law making it mandatory for corporate boards to be composed of at least 40% women. A similar quota will be imposed on the government Cabinet.

The gender quota bill will be approved at a weekly Cabinet meeting on March 7, before being sent to Congress, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced Saturday. The law will seek to establish that boards include at least 40% “of the least represented gender” and that they ensure that similar levels of parity exist in top management, the government said in a separate statement.

If passed, the rules will apply to all publicly-traded companies by July 1, 2024, and to all companies with at least 250 employees and €50 million ($53 million) in annual revenues by June 30, 2026. The government will also set a 40% quota for the Cabinet and will mandate that all political lists for elections alternate between male and female candidates. 

Sánchez has repeatedly defined his Socialist-led coalition government as feminist and has pushed high-profile equality laws, including on trans rights and a politically-controversial sexual consent law. Fourteen of his 22 ministers are women, and all three deputy prime ministers are female. 

Gender parity is not unusual in Spain’s main corporate boardrooms. The local securities regulator has a non-binding recommendation for publicly-listed firms to have at least 40% women on their boards. Although many of the firms on the Ibex-35 benchmark meet the quota or are relatively close to it, several also fall short. The shortfall in gender parity on boards is more acute in smaller firms outside the benchmark. 

Sánchez’s decision to pass a law making board parity mandatory is aligned with a European Union directive issued last year, which demands that such laws be passed in the region by 2026. That directive doesn’t require parity in top management or in political positions. 

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