Louise Harvey, Senior Managing Director of FTI Consulting Brussels, writes about girl power and the next Commission.
We’ve all been waiting with bated breath to see which Member States succumb to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s siren call to reward those which nominate female candidate Commissioners by ear-marking ‘big’ portfolios or a Vice Presidency of the Commission for them. The UK clearly felt it had done its bit for the sisterhood last time round since it has put forward the Conservative Leader of the House of Lords – Lord Hill – as its candidate to replace Labour’s outgoing Lady Ashton. Juncker’s call for more girl power in the Commission was endorsed by all eight current female Commissioners who co-signed a letter to him calling for at least 10 female Commissioners to be nominated by Member States. In their letter they point out that research demonstrates that large organisations perform better with diverse leadership and that this has been reflected in their own experience.
Their letter has led to great activity in the Twittersphere (#TenOrMore) with supporters jacking up the pressure for more women to be nominated as candidates. Member States have so far resisted these exhortations – 12 Member States (Germany, Cyprus, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and the UK) have all nominated male candidates. This leaves 15 (since Luxembourg has already nobbled its slot for Juncker) still to nominate candidates – what’s the betting that out of the 15 there will not be 10 female candidates?
Maybe the only way to secure gender diversity in the new College will rest in the hands of the recently elected European Parliament which has the right to throw out the Commission and demand Member States put forward more female candidates. But with just 38% of the 751 Parliament’s seats being held by women, don’t hold your breath too long……