News on the association
"NO COUNTRY CAN EVER TRULY FLOURISH IF IT STIFLES THE POTENTIAL OF ITS WOMEN AND DEPRIVES ITSELF
OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF HALF OF ITS CITIZENS."
- MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES (2014, JULY 30)
At a global level, we can conclude that the numbers of men and women are roughly equal, with the male
population being slightly larger than the female population (United Nations, 2017). And although up until
1974 women weren’t even allowed to own a credit card under their own name, the buying power of women
these days has increased dramatically to a spectacular $20 trillion in annual consumer spending (Gilhool,
2013). But that is not the only dramatic change women have gone through. According to Gilhool (2013),
“women are graduating with degrees at every level of higher education at an increasing rate, outpacing
Although women clearly have made progress on the social level, they still continue to find themselves
undervalued in the workplace, especially when it comes to leadership roles. Even in a well-developed
country like Belgium, this imbalance still exists: in 2017, only 5.9 percent of large publicly listed companies
had a female CEO and only 13.4 percent of all executives and 33.5 percent of non-executives were female
(EIGE, 2018). In OECD countries where women make up 40-50 percent of the labour force, they account for
less than 8 percent of top managers. Worldwide, this share is even lower (OECD, 2008). Why is it that
women make up for almost half the population, yet are so little involved in the decision-making? One
particular option to solve this inequality is a gender quota.
According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE, n.d.), a gender quota is “a positive
measurement instrument aimed at accelerating the achievement of gender-balanced participation and
representation. It establishes a defined proportion (percentage) or number of places or seats to be filled
by, or allocated to, women and/or men, generally under certain rules or criteria. Quotas can be applied in
order to correct a previous gender imbalance in different areas and at different levels, including in political
assemblies, decision-making positions in public, political life and economic life (corporate boards), as well
as to ensure the inclusion of women and their participation in international bodies, or as a tool to promote
equal access to training opportunities or jobs.”
The debate about gender quotas as a tool for increasing the gender diversity in corporate boards, has been
tempered now that more and more countries are getting involved. Even some countries that currently do
not have a gender quota in place, have officially stated that gender diversity is positive for the firm in
general. For example, the Lord Davies report (Lord Davies, 2011) from the UK says that “inclusive and
diverse boards are more likely to be effective boards, better able to understand their customers and
stakeholders and to benefit from fresh perspectives, new ideas, vigorous challenge and broad experience.
This in turn leads to better decision making.” This trend is not only seen in European countries, but across
the globe: upcoming economies like India, China and even some countries in the Middle-East (for example
Tunisia and Jordan) are starting to acknowledge the importance of gender diversity in the board of
Most studies that have dealt with gender diversity in boards have used publicly available information, were
of a quantitative nature (Seierstad & Opsahl, 2011; Wang & Kelan, 2013) and have largely focused on
corporate financial performance (Bøhren & Staubo, 2014). The main question that will be investigated in
this study, is the following: To what extent does society steer companies into complying with gender quota?
This is done by examining what (future) employees think of the mandatory gender quotas and other nonlegislative
instruments that try to improve the gender diversity in decision-making processes. Does the
opinion differ between males and females? Which arguments are often used in this debate? Does a clear
diversity policy have an impact on the reputation of the companies? This study answers to the call of
Seierstad (2016) to consider broader international analyses, instead of focusing only on Norway: according
to her, follow-up studies should also investigate the wider effect of using quotas by looking at societal
First, the theoretical framework is explained, by looking at both the academic literature and the legislation
in Belgium. Chapter 2 gives an overview of the existing academic literature and deals with following topics:
the impact of gender diversity policies on organisational attractiveness, the (dis)advantages of using a
gender quota to increase gender diversity, the impact of Norway’s gender quota in the board of directors
and the effect of gender diversity and gender quota on the performance of that company. Chapter 3 gives
a brief summary of the current situation in Belgium concerning the gender equality on multiple dimensions,
from economic decision-making to health and survival, with the use of the results from the Gender Gap
Report of the World Economic Forum. The evolution that Belgian companies have made in their boards of
directors after the implementation of the gender quota, is also discussed. This is the result of the legislation
surrounding gender diversity together with other non-legislative instruments.
The second part of the thesis deals with the research that has been conducted through a questionnaire for
both students and working people in Flanders. Chapter 4 explains the methodology of this study by
integrating the sample design, the data collection method, details of the questionnaire and how the data
cleaning was executed. In chapter 5, the reader can go through the main results of the study. These results
were also compared with experiences of experts on this topic. The discussion, limitations, conclusion and
recommendations can also be found in this chapter.
For more read attachment above.
On June 26th, 2017, Women on Board held their General Assembly at the offices of Cofinimmo.
The session was followed by a speech from DIrk van Gerven who wrote a book on Women in the workplace and diversity.
Please find enclosed the presentation given by the Françoise, Trees and Emmanuele.
For the Presentation follow this link.
On 7 November 2016 Women on Board will lauch the first edition of the "Women Intergenerational Digital Dialogue Program" that aims at improving digital skills and competencies of Women on Board members by reverse mentoring with young high potential women having knowledge about digital transformation. In return the young high potential women will be introduced to corporate governance and executive management.
Sonja Rottiers leaves the Chair to Françoise Roels, François Blondel joins the board after 2 year as chairman of Women on Boards admissions Committee and Cécile Coune has elected to resign from the board, as she focuses on the growing needs of European Women on Boards (our European “umbrella” organization). She will remain an active member of WoB which she co-founded. The Board is very thankful for her years’ commitment.
Trees Paelinck endorses the new role of General Manager of Women on Board and will be assisted, besides the existing internal team of Laure-Anne Van Ingelgem, Coordinator and Chantal Cabuy, HR consultant, by an executive committee composed of members Miriam Murphy, Anne Tilleux, Laurence Janssens and Nicoline Spruijt. A warm welcome to them and best wishes of success !
Save the date: On September 17, 2015, Fielfisher is organising its yearly great event : "September Get-Together: Time to go back to school, time to start networking again!"
When: Thursday 17 September 2015, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Where: L'Arsenal, Bouleverd Louis Schmidtlaan 29, 1040 Brussels
On 15 June 2015, PwC will be hosting our general assembly followed by a great event on a very hot-topic: "tax strategy and ethics, a major item for Board agenda"
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News on the market place
Eergisteren kwam onze vernieuwde Raad van Bestuur voor het eerst samen en konden we hen het versterkte operationele team voorstellen. De zes geëngageerde topmanagers vervoegen een RvB die ATK door de tweede fase zal loodsen. Twee bijkomende medewerkers zullen, samen met de operationele manager...
29/11/2017Trui De Maré van VRT NWS: Interview met Francoise Roels. Wordt waarschijnlijk uitgezonden donderdag met Women on Board Index als nieuwsitem, en misschien ook in De Vrije Markt op VRT....
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News on associate members
We are pleased to announce that one of our members, Katrien Vanhulle was recently appointed Independent Director at the Lijn.
We wish her all the success in this new role.
At the Elia group special general meeting held today in Brussels, ...
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