Both public and private companies in Belgium currently have a very poor gender balance at senior executive level, with very little progress made over the past 10-15 years. Different reasons for this are put forward, including women’s lack of interest, the lack of qualified women, the lack of networking, etc.
Introducing the concept of gender diversity, the 2009 Belgian Code on Corporate Governance is moving in the right direction, as reflected by Provision 2.1 of the Code’s second principle:
"The Board's composition should ensure that decisions are made in the corporate interest. It should be determined on the basis of gender diversity and diversity in general, as well as complementary skills, experience and knowledge."
The FEB/VBO commented on the Code’s gender diversity clause (16 March 2009, ref CJ/2009/15 - CDA/nle - 1/8) as follows:
"For the Committee, it is beyond discussion that companies should primarily, in the first place, pay attention to skills, experience and knowledge when composing their board. However, next to these aspects, gender diversity is also an essential factor that should be taken into account."
We are personally convinced that society wants more talented women to become involved in the business world in the context of good governance practices and we are willing to contribute to a better functioning and effectiveness of decision-making and governance bodies. As unanimously recognised, good governance supports long-term value creation.
In view of the above factors, we have decided to bring together qualified women with the aim of promoting diversity in boards of directors and executive committees and to give Belgian and foreign corporations free access to a pool of highly qualified female candidates ready to take up board positions.
One of our priorities is to interact with leading business players in the fields of corporate governance and women's participation.
Women on Board is not a political or lobby organisation, and has therefore decided not to take any position on quotas. We focus instead on our main objectives of giving greater visibility to skilled women and potential board candidates, and promoting this pool of talents in the business world.