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European Commission - Fact Sheet

European Commission acts to reach at least 40% women in its management and launches comprehensive strategy - Questions and Answers

Brussels, 19 July 2017


I. A true equal opportunity workplace: at least 40% in female management

Why do you have this quantitative 40% female management target?

Women make up for 55% of our staff and only 34% of our managers. This means that they are underrepresented at management level. At the same time, research shows that organisations which have a gender-balanced management are more productive, innovative and achieve better results. If we want to show we are truly committed to being gender balanced, we have to give women the opportunity to fully play their role in the Commission's management.  

Is this not discrimination against men?

When it comes to gender diversity, the target of at least 40% of women in management is not about keeping men out of management. In line with our internal rules, every appointment will always be taken based on merit.

Why do you need additional measures to reach the at least 40% female management target?

The measures we took since the beginning of the mandate helped us achieve some progress towards the objective to have at least 40% women in management. However, as President Juncker points out in his mission letter to Commissioner Oettinger, this is "still far from good enough". We are therefore redoubling our efforts by adopting refined targets for each of the Commission's department. Those refined targets relate to the number of women newly appointed as Head of Unit. This approach allows identifying the efforts already made, and those still to be made, in each department until 1 November 2019.

What if Directors-General do not reach the targets?

We trust that our top managers will succeed in reaching the targets for the departments they are heading. If our regular checks show that a given department is falling behind, that department may be asked to attract suitable female applicants before proceeding with an appointment.

How many female managers do you have at the moment? How has this figure evolved over time?

On 1 May 2017, women made up for 33% of all senior managers and 35% of all Heads of Unit in the Commission. This compares with 27% and 32%, respectively, at the beginning of the mandate..

What have you done so far to attract women to management jobs?

We have taken the following measures:

  • We worked to identify, develop and support female talent.
  • We organised targeted training sessions as well as coaching and mentoring schemes.
  • We raised awareness inside the Commission about how important it is to have a gender-balanced management.

What is next?

The Commission will continue to monitor the progress on the way the target of at least 40% women in management.


II. A better workplace for all: the Commission's Diversity and Inclusion strategy

Why do you need a Diversity and Inclusion strategy?

Organisations that embrace a diverse workforce and are inclusive to all tend to deliver better results, innovate more and are able to take tough decisions. The diversity in the Commission is a given – as an international organisation, it is home to many nations, languages and cultures. Yet, the concept of inclusiveness is not as straightforward. Inclusion is about an environment that allows our differences to thrive and be accepted and valued. It is a corporate culture. Today's Diversity and Inclusion strategy aims to turn the Commission into a truly inclusive organisation, where everybody can be open about the way they are and be respected for that.

What are its objectives?

The strategy aims to achieve:

  • For women, at least 40% female representation in the Commission management.
  • For staff with disabilities, full implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
  • For the LGBTI community, ensure an environment where they would feel comfortable to be open about their orientation.
  • For older staff, make them feel valued for their experience.

What tools will you use?

For the first time, the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy contains a special Charter on Diversity and Inclusion. Its goal is to raise awareness and help achieves the policy objectives.

The strategy contains cross-cutting but also specific measures to address the concerns of each of these groups, including:

  • For women, specific management programmes and support for existing and new women networks
  • For disabled staff, involvement in the planning of access and mobility facilities in Commission buildings.
  • For LGBTI, awareness activities and trainings for managers and staff, in particular to address any unconscious bias.
  • For older staff, monitor whether they face any discrimination when applying for new jobs.

How did you decide on these measures?

The Diversity and Inclusion strategy has been drafted following discussions with the groups concerned, composed of representatives both from within and outside the Commission. Already in autumn, the Commission will work on an action plan to fine-tune and further develop the measures set out in the Communication

How will you measure if you have succeeded?

The only way to measure whether people feel included in their workplace is to ask them about how they feel. We are planning to include questions on the matter in our regular staff surveys.  

What is next?

The strategy will start a process of reporting, monitoring and further fine-tuning of proposed measures. The first Diversity and Inclusion Report will be published in spring 2018.

For more information:

- Diversity and inclusion strategy

- Press release: 'Diversity and Inclusion: European Commission acts to reach at least 40% women in its management and launches comprehensive strategy' (19 July 2017)


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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