ECB pushes for more women on bank boards

The European Central Bank is pushing for more women at the top of banks as it “raises the bar” for board members.

The banking supervisor on Tuesday opened a consultation on changes to its guide on “fit and proper” tests for selecting prospective directors.

“The European banking landscape is beginning to include more women, but progress is still too slow,” ECB Supervisory Board members Frank Elderson and Elizabeth McCaul wrote in a blog post.

“This is why the ECB is taking concrete steps as part of its supervisory mandate to promote more diverse boards and more diverse banks, across all dimensions.”

Under the plans, the Frankfurt-based authority will be able to impose gender targets — where national law allows — and question banks on their diversity strategies.

“Whenever targets are not met, we will issue recommendations to remedy such imbalances,” the two ECB board members wrote in the blog post.

The push for greater diversity among EU lenders is part of an overall drive to toughen up checks and make them more uniform across the EU.

The ECB is proposing more thorough assessments on would-be board members, including taking into account criminal proceedings and conflicts of interests.

Banks are also being encouraged to submit information before an appointment — even in countries where they are not required to do so until afterward — and will have to reassess directors if their situations change during their terms.

Plus, the guide also introduces requirements for boards to collectively have expertise in climate-related risks.

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