ACCA leads debate on implementing EU legislation to increase gender diversity on company boards

ACCA will today host a Europe-wide virtual event to discuss the EU’s new gender balance directive

Coming into effect in June 2026, the directive will set out to increase gender diversity on company boards, requiring the ‘under-represented sex’ (which could be male or female) make up 40% of non-executive directors or 33% of all major company directors.

These quotas will apply for each company, and cover executive and non-executive positions on boards of all listed companies, other than those with less than 250 employees.

Led by ACCA Deputy President, Ronnie Patton, the panel will discuss implementation of the EU legislation, while also focusing on how women in senior positions can transition into Board and Non-Executive Director roles.

Commenting on the event, Ronnie Patton said: “The directive marks an important step towards equity for women. We do however need constant vigilance to ensure opportunity is extended to all people, whoever they are, wherever they are, regardless of class, race, nationality, or of course gender.”

Hedwige Nuyens, Chair of European Women on Boards, is a keynote speaker at the event and will share her views on why the legislation is a major milestone and what it means for women in leadership positions looking for their first, or next, board roles. 

Commenting on the legislation, Hedwige Nuyens said: “These are important new requirements to make sure board members are recruited with sound and transparent selection processes, and the best candidate is chosen without any gender bias.” 

Currently just 32.2% of directors of all listed companies in the EU are women, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality. The directive could affect many of the nearly 9,000 listed companies in Europe. 

Commenting on the new legislation, Caitriona Allis, Head of ACCA Europe, said, “As an organisation that was established specifically to open up the accountancy profession to people of all backgrounds, based solely on their ability, ACCA has a rich history of promoting opportunity and championing diversity.  The EU’s new gender balance directive is an important development, that not only brings an onus on employers and sectors but stimulates debate across the wider economy on the opportunities that a diverse senior leadership creates, and focuses minds on how we can collectively achieve it.  

Find out more about this event and ACCA’s wider International Women’s Day activities here.

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About ACCA

ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We’re a thriving global community of 241,000 members and 542,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold the highest professional and ethical values.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That’s why we’re committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we’re a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.

Through our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today’s questions and preparing us for tomorrow.

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