The ACCA is seeking to play a leading role in the introduction of a European initiative aimed at increasing gender diversity in company boards.

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, 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.”

European Women on Boards chair, Hedwige Nuyens, commented: “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.”

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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, ACCA Europe head, Caitriona Allis, 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.”