Germany Sets ‘Milestone’ Gender Quota for Company Boards

Germany on Friday moved to make sure that ladies are represented within the higher echelons of a few of Europe’s largest publicly traded corporations, advancing a measure in Parliament that units a quota for ladies on administration boards.

Under the proposal authorised by the Parliament, public corporations in Germany with 4 or extra board members might be required to have one feminine board member, and government-controlled corporations with boards of three or extra members may even be required to have one lady.

The measure is anticipated to obtain closing passage by Germany’s higher home later this summer time. Companies will face monetary penalties for failing to fulfill the brand new regulation.

“Highly qualified women still come up against glass ceilings far too often,” mentioned the minister for justice and household affairs, Christine Lambrecht. “This is a milestone for women in Germany and at the same time offers a great opportunity for both society and companies.”

The authorities mentioned 66 private-sector corporations, 21 of which nonetheless don’t have any ladies on their administration boards, might be affected by the brand new guidelines. Included within the regulation is day without work for govt board members who select to take depart, whether or not maternity or parental, or due to sickness or to care for members of the family.

In adopting the proposal, Germany is building on a 2015 law requiring a few of Europe’s largest corporations to offer 30 p.c of supervisory seats to ladies.

“We already saw with the quota for supervisory boards introduced in 2015, quota regulations have an effect,” mentioned Ms. Lambrecht. “The new regulations will have an impact on the entire economy.”

In anticipation of Parliament passing new laws, six German corporations, together with the sportswear producer Adidas and the pharmaceutical agency Bayer, appointed ladies to their administration boards earlier than the regulation was handed, according to a recent study by FidAR, an initiative advocating extra ladies on advisory boards. More than half the nation’s giant listed firms, the report mentioned, nonetheless don’t have any ladies on their boards.

“Women have a lot of potential that neither German companies nor our society can do without,” a former household minister, Franziska Giffey, mentioned in November, earlier than the proposed regulation reached Parliament.

According to a 2020 survey by the AllBright Foundation, ladies occupy solely 12.eight p.c of the seats on administration boards of the 30 largest corporations in Germany’s blue-chip DAX index.

“It’s surprising that Germany is such a superpower when you look at those numbers,” mentioned Janina Kugel, who served as chief human assets officer and managing board member at Siemens for 5 years. “The question is, will it remain a superpower if things don’t change in many aspects, but also when it comes to diversity? I would doubt that.”

For Ms. Kugel, the brand new regulation is a vital sign, however not sufficient. Equality, she mentioned, is 50 p.c.

For so long as Simone Menne can bear in mind, the variety of ladies in prime administration positions has kind of been the identical, she mentioned in an interview in January.

The proposal authorised by the German parliament is “sort of a wake-up call for companies and male top managers to really consider to change their behavior,” mentioned Ms. Menne, a former chief monetary officer on Lufthansa’s administration board and present board member of administrators of BMW and Deutsche Post.

“It’s a myth that there’s not enough qualified women,” she mentioned. “We are not pushing men to the side; it’s the contrary, we have to work together.”

Melissa Eddy contributed from Berlin.

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