Spain promotes gender parity in politics, business ahead of Women's Day

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attends a news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attends a news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

MADRID, March 7 (Reuters) - Spain's leftist government rolled out a draft bill designed to boost the share of women in politics and business on Tuesday, on the eve of International Women's Day, and further advance gender equality in one of the world's leading countries on the issue.

The Equal Representation Law will apply the principle of full gender parity to electoral lists and impose a 40% minimum female representation on boards of directors of big companies and governing boards of professional associations.

"We need to take advantage of 100% of the female talent in our country to improve the productivity of companies and to have a stronger and more sustainable growth over time," Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said after the meeting of the cabinet, in which women have outnumbered men for the first time in Spain.

Calvino, who made headlines last year when she said she would no longer attend events if women were not equally represented among the speakers, said the draft bill would break the glass ceiling in the public and private sectors and consolidate Spain as a leader in terms of gender equality.

The law will require that women make up at least 40% of the management of any listed company by July 2024. Unlisted firms with more than 250 workers and annual turnover of 50 million euros ($53 million) must reach the target by 2026.

These are tougher goals than those set in an EU directive, under which women have to account for 40% of non-executive directors by 2026, or 33% of all directors.

Spain's main business association CEOE declined to comment before learning the details of the proposal.

Female representation on boards of Spanish public companies rose to 32.37% last year from below 30%, according to a report by IESE business school and communication company Atrevia.

A McKinsey&Company report following a survey of 35 Spanish companies showed on Tuesday that female representation was at only 9% for top management and 28% for boards. The overall share has not changed since 2019 and the report said that greater gender diversity in management can help improve earnings by 25%.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Additional reporting by Belén Carreño, editing by Andrei Khalip and Ed Osmond

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