In light of recent laws and so-called “pink quotas” to increase the number of women serving on European boards, many European boards are increasingly looking to American female business leaders to fill seats.

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Joann S. Lublin reports that European boards are pursuing American businesswomen “partly because the U.S. has a larger pool of senior executive women.”

To recap the recent mandates requiring more women on European boards:

  • In France, corporate boards must be 20% female by January 2014
  • In Belgium, within seven years, 30% of boards must be made up of women
  • Spain has introduced a quota of 40% female representation by 2015
  • In the Netherlands, corporate boards must be made up of at least 30% women and 30% men
  • In Norway, companies are required to have at least 33% to 50% of each gender represented, depending on the size of the board
  • In Iceland, a 2010 law requires companies with more than 50 employees to have at least 40% of both genders represented by 2013
  • In Italy, by 2013, one-third of board members must be female

The UK and Sweden have adopted voluntary measures, with the UK aiming for 25% female representation on boards by 2015 and Sweden hoping to achieve boards composed equally of women and men.

In the Wall Street Journal article, Lublin cites seven American businesswomen appointed to European boards this year, including Françoise Brougher at Sodexo SA (Paris). Other American businesswomen have landed board seats this year at Anglo American PLC, Fiat SpA and Nokia Corp.

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