May 24. 2024. 6:47

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Spain imposes wide-reaching 40% gender quota from 2026

Large public and private companies must ensure women make up at least 40% of their decision-making bodies from 2026, according to a draft bill approved by the government on Tuesday that also applies to election candidates, members of government and professional associations.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, the Council of Ministers greenlighted a measure that will force companies to implement quotas.

Unlisted companies (not in the IBEX 35 stock market index) with more than 250 employees and an annual turnover of €50 million to have at least 40% of its women in decision-making positions from July 2026, Economy Minister Nadia Calviño (PSOE/S&D) explained at a press conference.

The new draft bill on Equal Representation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Bodies will allow Spain to move from “recommendations” to “establishing obligations” that consolidate gender equality in the areas of political and economic decision-making, the government stated.

The measure was already announced last week by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who on Monday reaffirmed on Twitter that his government is determined to break the glass ceiling for women.

“If women are half of society, they should be half of the political and economic power. Some may see this as excessive, but those of us who believe in feminism see it as simply fair”, he said.

In the case of listed companies, non-compliance with the new gender parity norm will be considered a serious offence.

The principle of balanced representation, whereby no gender has a representation of less than 40%, will also apply to candidates who run in elections, to members of government, as well as to professional associations and juries for public awards or recognitions.

Senior management positions will have to “adjust” the recruitment processes to achieve the objectives set forth by the new law.

In Spain, the representation of women on company boards of listed companies is currently less than 30% and below 20% in the case of senior management positions, according to official data.

With this measure, Spain further consolidates its position as one of the world’s “most advanced” countries in terms of gender equality, going beyond the EU directive in terms of both deadlines and objectives, the minister stressed. “Social advances are achieved with laws”, she added.

Municipal elections will be held on 28 May in Spain, with general elections due in December. (Fernando Heller |