Creating new solutions and supporting the quotas

While quotas have emerged as a powerful tool for accelerating gender diversity on corporate boards, they represent just one facet of a broader strategy to achieve equitable representation. It’s essential to explore the myriad of alternative approaches that complement these regulatory measures and, in some cases, offer standalone strategies for fostering diversity and inclusivity within the corporate board.

These alternative approaches provide a flexible framework within which companies can operate to promote gender diversity. They serve as vital supplements to quota systems and standalone measures that can drive progress towards gender equality in corporate governance.


The EU’s Complementary Approaches to Achieving Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards

While the Women on Boards Directive (EU) 2022/2381 establishes a foundational quota for gender representation on corporate boards, the European Union also advocates for various complementary strategies. These alternative solutions aim to tackle the multifaceted barriers to gender diversity in corporate governance, extending beyond mandatory quotas to foster an inclusive environment conducive to gender balance.

Emphasizing Transparency and Accountability

Enhanced Disclosure Practices: Building on the principle of transparency, the EU encourages companies to adopt enhanced disclosure practices related to board selection criteria and processes. This initiative aims to demystify board appointments, ensuring that selections are merit-based and free from gender bias.

Public Reporting of Progress: The Women on Board Directive leverages the power of reporting to enhance gender diversity across corporate boards within the European Union. By mandating listed companies to provide detailed reports on the gender composition of their boards—distinguishing between executive and non-executive roles—and describing the efforts made to achieve gender diversity, the directive aims to foster transparency and accountability. 

Impacts on Member States

Visibility of Gender Representation Gaps: Transparency in board selection processes highlights the current state of gender representation on corporate boards, making gender imbalances visible to all stakeholders. This visibility is crucial for identifying gaps and the need for more targeted diversity initiatives.

Accountability for Gender Diversity Goals: Reporting mechanisms create a formal channel through which companies are held accountable for their gender diversity objectives. By publicly disclosing their progress towards achieving these goals, companies commit to actionable steps towards closing the gender gap under the watchful eyes of shareholders, regulatory bodies, and the public.

Incentive to Prioritize Gender Diversity: The requirement to report on gender diversity metrics incentivizes companies to prioritize gender diversity as a critical aspect of their governance and recruitment strategies. Knowing they will have to disclose these figures publicly, companies are more likely to undertake serious efforts to improve gender balance on their boards.

Benchmarking and Sharing Best Practices: Public reporting enables the benchmarking of gender diversity across companies and industries. It facilitates healthy competition and allows the sharing of best practices and successful strategies for improving gender diversity on boards.

Cultivation of an Inclusive Board Culture: Over time, the emphasis on reporting and transparency contributes to cultivating a board culture that values diversity and inclusion. This cultural shift is essential for sustaining gender diversity on corporate boards, as it influences the selection process and the integration and empowerment of diverse board members.

Attracting Diverse Talent: Companies known for transparent and inclusive board selection processes are more attractive to top diverse talent. Skilled professionals and leaders who value diversity are more likely to seek out and accept board positions in organizations where they see a clear commitment to these principles.



“Comply or Explain” Framework Adjustments: Beyond the quotas, the EU values the “comply or explain” mechanism as a flexible tool for companies to set ambitious gender diversity targets. Companies not meeting these self-imposed targets are expected to explain publicly, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and introspection regarding gender diversity practices.

Stakeholder Engagement and Awareness: Increasing awareness about the benefits of gender-diverse leadership teams is crucial. The EU advocates for initiatives that engage stakeholders at all levels, from shareholders to employees, in understanding and supporting the drive for more balanced gender representation on corporate boards.


Resistance to Change: Overcoming the ingrained corporate cultures and traditions that resist changing established board dynamics presents a significant challenge. Organizations may hesitate to adopt new reporting standards and transparency practices, especially if they perceive them as threats to the existing order or as additional regulatory burdens.

Standardization of Reporting: The lack of standardized reporting formats and criteria across different jurisdictions and sectors makes it difficult to measure and compare gender diversity progress effectively. Achieving consensus on what metrics to report and how to report them is a considerable challenge, as it requires alignment among various stakeholders with varying interests and priorities.

Superficial Compliance: There is a risk that organizations might fulfil the reporting requirements superficially, focusing on the letter rather than the spirit of the law. This tokenism does not contribute to real change. Instead, it perpetuates a checkbox approach to gender diversity, where organizations aim to meet minimum standards without genuinely committing to diversity and inclusion.


Germany’s Alternative Approach to Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards

Germany enhances gender diversity in corporate governance by extending beyond traditional quotas and reporting mechanisms. This approach is articulated through a significant amendment to the Stock Corporation Act, which introduces a groundbreaking provision allowing board members to request temporary leave for maternity reasons.

Legislative Innovation and Support for Mothers

The amendment to the Stock Corporation Act is a testament to Germany’s forward-thinking approach to gender diversity. It grants board members the right to be temporarily revoked from their positions due to maternity, ensuring they can return to their roles post-maternity leave. This legislative innovation is crucial, as it acknowledges and accommodates the unique challenges women, particularly mothers, face in corporate leadership positions.

Enhanced Gender Diversity and Inclusion

By integrating maternity leave dynamics into corporate board governance, Germany addresses a significant gap in the traditional corporate structure. Previously, women on boards faced a daunting choice between resigning their positions permanently or risking their health to fulfil board duties. The new regulation eliminates this dilemma by offering a practical solution encouraging more women to consider and maintain board positions without compromising their health or parental responsibilities.


This unique legal provision facilitates greater participation of women on corporate boards and promotes a more inclusive board culture that values diversity and work-life balance. The assurance of being able to temporarily step down and subsequently resume their board roles without penalty encourages more women to aspire to and accept board positions. Furthermore, it alleviates concerns among those responsible for board appointments regarding including women, particularly those of childbearing age, enhancing both gender and age diversity on boards.


Cultural Adaptation: One of the primary challenges lies in the broader corporate culture’s adaptation to these progressive policies. The success of the “StayOnBoard” initiative hinges on changing longstanding corporate norms and attitudes towards maternity and board participation, which may take time and concerted effort across all levels of corporate governance.

Implementation Consistency: Ensuring uniform implementation of the “StayOnBoard” policy across various corporations poses a challenge. Differences in corporate governance structures, company sizes, and industry sectors can lead to variability in how the policy is applied, potentially affecting its effectiveness.

Balancing Board Continuity with Temporary Leaves: Managing the temporary absence of board members while ensuring the continuity and effectiveness of board governance is a practical challenge. Corporations must navigate the logistics of temporarily replacing board members on maternity leave without disrupting the board’s strategic direction and decision-making processes.

Lithuania’s Approach to Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards

Lithuania has embarked on a significant journey to address and enhance gender diversity within its corporate and societal structures. Drawing inspiration from the global dialogue on women’s rights initiated at the Beijing Conference on Women in 1995, Lithuania has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to gender equality. This commitment was solidified by the enactment of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (EOL) in 1999—the law aimed at ensuring equal treatment and opportunities across genders.

Legislative Framework and Institutional Support

Establishing the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson, closely modelled after Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman, marks a pivotal step in Lithuania’s efforts to foster a culture of diversity and equality. Entrusted with the enforcement of the EOL, this office oversees the law’s implementation, addressing complaints and violations related to discrimination and harassment based on gender. This mechanism empowers individuals, including those in corporate settings, to seek redress for gender-based discrimination, offering avenues for compensation for both material and non-material damages. It also considers gender diversity problems on Corporate Boards.

Challenges in Achieving Corporate Gender Diversity

Despite these robust initiatives and legal frameworks, Lithuania faces significant challenges translating these efforts into tangible gender diversity within corporate boardrooms. The absence of legislation specifically targeting diversity in corporate boards underscores a gap in the country’s equality framework. While the EOL provides a basis for addressing workplace discrimination, including in corporate leadership, the practical application of these provisions needs to be revised. The burden of proof placed on complainants, coupled with the limited recourse to monetary compensation, poses substantial barriers to challenging and transforming discriminatory corporate practices.


Awareness and Empowerment: Lithuania’s legislative efforts have significantly heightened awareness about gender equality within the corporate sector, empowering individuals to stand up against discrimination. This legal framework has laid the groundwork for a societal and corporate culture more attuned to gender issues, providing individuals with the means to seek justice for discriminatory practices.

Cultural Shift with Limited Organizational Change: While contributing to a cultural shift towards greater recognition of gender equality, the impact on actual corporate practices, especially in terms of achieving gender diversity in leadership and board positions, remains limited. The existing legal framework, primarily focused on individual rights and redress, has not sufficiently translated into systemic organizational change or significantly altered the composition of corporate boards in favour of gender diversity.

Highlighting the Gap and Need for Targeted Action: The situation in Lithuania underscores a critical gap between general gender equality legislation and the specific challenges of achieving gender diversity in corporate governance. It highlights the need for more targeted actions and policies that directly address the unique barriers to women’s equal participation in corporate leadership roles, suggesting a pivot towards more comprehensive strategies that include specific measures for corporate boards.