* Draft bill says 30 pct of board members should be female
* Bill faces around 50 amendments in Italian parliament
* Big business wants gradual introduction, weaker sanctions
By Lisa Jucca
MILAN, Feb 17 A draft bill aimed at boosting low
female representation on Italian company boards is under threat
from a barrage of amendments, and opposition from big business
and banking lobbies.
Even though Italy's big business lobby Confindustria is
chaired by a woman, Emma Marcegaglia, women represent only 4
percent of company board members, the second-lowest rate in
western Europe. They are usually paid less than male colleagues.
A draft bill backed by ruling and opposition parties would
make it mandatory for listed groups, audit committees and
city-owned companies to have 30 percent of their boards women.
Those not complying would see their boards declared illegal.
But just days after an estimated million women rallied to
protest about how the prime minister's sex scandals are tainting
their image, the bill is at risk of being watered down by about
50 amendments tabled by Silvio Berlusconi's PDL party.
"Female participation in Italian corporate boards is
ridiculously low," said Laura Frati Gucci, the chairwoman of
AIDDA, the Italian female entrepreneurs and managers'
"The amendments come in the wake of the protest and are
targeted. Some people want to torpedo this bill in the Senate
next Tuesday," she told Reuters.
Frati Gucci said that among new businesses in Italy over the
past decade, three-quarters were founded or run by a woman.
However, the women holding top corporate jobs tend to
They include FiniNvest holding firm and publisher Mondadori
(MOED.MI) Chairwoman Marina Berlusconi, the daughter of Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi; Jonella Ligresti, boss of insurer
Fondiaria-SAI FOSA.MI; and Marcegaglia, head of a steel
Italy's draft bill takes its cue from a groundbreaking law
on female board representation in Norway. A survey carried out
by Professional Women's Network showed that women make up 11.7
percent of boards at Europe's top 3,000 companies.
The bill, due to be vetted by a Senate committee on Tuesday,
received a lukewarm reaction by Confindustria, the Italian
Banking Association and insurance association ANIA.
The three powerful lobbies welcomed the proposal this week,
but called for full implementation to be pushed back at least 10
years and said the proposed sanctions were disproportionate.
"We hope to get there with the necessary gradualness, with
one or two intermediate steps and in the course of two or three
legislative terms," the associations said in a joint statement.
A full legislative term lasts up to five years.
(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei in Rome; Editing by