We ask: can this be legal??
Are there no men employed in this dairy in which female staff toil … and are any women on the company board? I suspect the answer to both may be ”no”, but this may change … partly thanks to EU plans to increase the number of women directors.
To find out more, go to the website of the European Commission’s DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, follow the link to News, and scroll down to the news for 14 November 2012, you’ll see the headline Women on Boards: Commission proposes 40% objective. There’s a link to a press release, with further links to factsheets, and to a selection of key documents, which include a Press pack.
So what’s actually happening?
This is a proposal for a Directive, and the text, published in a COM document is actually the fourth document down in the Press Pack. There are several reference numbers on the front of the COM doc. The one that you should note is the first one: COM(2012) 614 final. To track progress, use the standard search on Pre-Lex:
Insert the series (COM), year and document number in the appropriate boxes. Clicking Search takes you to this screen:
At the top of this screen you will see a Timeline, which shows how far the proposal has progressed, and on the left, there is a list of Events. As it is a new proposal, there is very little information there so far, but you can see that it is scheduled to be transmitted to the European Parliament on 16 December.
So back to our eight maids-a-milking … who are going to have to wait for this legislation to complete the Co-decision procedure, now known as the Ordinary legislative procedure before they stand a really good chance of having significant female representation at board level (particularly in the UK, where, the BBC reports, EU Commissioner Viviane Redding has said that, at the current rate of change, it would take more than 70 years to reach gender-balanced boardrooms.)
But perhaps they are not the only hard-done by group: are there bands of frustrated men desperate to access milking work in dairies? Back to the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion homepage where we see a link to Rights at work. Follow the link for EU employment laws to find out whether there is a Directive in force on equal access to employment. If you scroll down the page on Employment and social policy you will see a link under Equality between men and women. Scroll down to the heading Female employment and entrepreneurship: employment below which you will see a link to Gender equality in the labour market. Here (at last!) is the link to the relevant Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation … and so our milkmaids may not make up 40% of the Dairy’s board, but they should have an equal opportunity to become goatherds … although that can be a lonely life … as Julie Andrews and the Muppets know.