Centrica chairman hits back at EU quota for women

Bringing in European laws to make sure there is a minimum amount of women on the boards of large firms is unnecessary, according to the chairman of Centrica. Yesterday the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Bringing in European laws to make sure there is a minimum amount of women on the boards of large firms is unnecessary, according to the chairman of Centrica.

Yesterday the head of British Gas’s parent company, Sir Roger Carr, wrote to the Times on behalf of the CBI to claim firms are happy to embrace women on boards.

He criticised EU plans to make sure at least 40% of big firms’ boards are women. Yesterday these plans were delayed to November but EU Justice Minister Viviene Reding said she will make sure they are put before the European Parliament in November.

The chairman of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) wrote: “British businesses have one message for Brussels on this – we don’t need the law to make us do something we want to do by choice. Most businesses genuinely buy into the benefits of increasing diversity and believe that mixed-sex boards make for better decision-making.”

His sentiment is borne out by statistics: research by Credit Suisse Research Institute found the stocks of firms with women on boards did better in challenging markets than those with all-male boards.

Centrica’s own board of directors currently has three women on its board out of fourteen, meaning it would miss any 40% quota.