Could matching EU quotas improve UK gender diversity?


FROM June 2026, all 27 EU member states will have to enforce mandatory quotas that ensure at least 40 percent of non-executive director posts, and a third of all director positions in businesses, are occupied by women.

Firms will be required to provide annual reports on the gender representation of their boards, and their plans for improvement, and those that fail to meet these quotes could face significant penalties.

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found that only 41 percent of management roles in the UK are held by women. A mere 38 percent of senior positions are held by women. So, could quotas be a path for change in the UK as well as the EU?

Research shows that gender diversity on executive teams often equates to increased profitability, as well as employee satisfaction, better decision-making and talent attraction and retention.

The Great Resignation has seen job-seekers increasingly seeking businesses that maintain a supportive and open-minded culture. But are quotas necessary to drive change?

Though the EU’s new rules will force companies to hire more women into senior positions, they won’t necessarily create a level playing field, or remove prejudices. They can even be a source of tension — women don’t want their male co-workers to think they’ve been hired or promoted to meet a target.

To create a truly diverse workforce, businesses must start with recruitment. Organisations must ensure female representation and highlight key female figures in the company.

An inclusive culture should be in the DNA of a company. Along with the phrasing of job advertisements, conversations between senior and more junior members of staff need to be encouraging and supportive of gender diversity.

Providing official training to both genders throughout the business should ensure an equal chance for success.

It is equally important for businesses to attract and support ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, people with disabilities and those from all socio-economic backgrounds. The focus shouldn’t be solely on gender.

Companies must keep conversations around inclusivity alive.

For lasting improvements, it is not enough to simply meet a quota then dismiss the topic. There needs to change at a cultural level, removing biases and changing outdated processes. Quotas may not be the ultimate fix, but they could be a helpful place to start.

Francesca Anoja is international HR director at BIP.