Businessmen Speak Out Against Gender Quotas ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

A number of board members and executives of companies listed on the Estonian exchange say that the EU's newly-passed requirement that company boards must be 40 percent female is insulting to women.

A response to the requirement, some concluded, may be that companies will simply increase the number of people on their boards.

Tallink and Olympic Entertainment Grupp were among the skeptics, reported Äripäev.

Olympic executive Madis Jääger said: "Regarding the number of women in management, I suppose it has developed that way in free competition. We don't have women in 40 percent of Parliament or in the government either."

The EU Parliament last week passed a measure that, if supported by the EU Council, would require 40 percent of board members at large companies to be women. All six of Estonia's MEPs voted in favor of the reform, while the Estonian government has opposed it, calling for alternative ways to improve gender equality.

Very few if any Estonian companies would be affected by the measure, which would apply to about 5,000 listed companies in the EU by 2020 and state-owned companies by 2018. The minimum to qualify is 250 employees or global sales of 50 million euros.

The wage gap between men and women in Estonia is among the highest in Europe, despite education levels showing the opposite trend.