German parties agree to introduce quota for women on boards
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed on Monday to introduce legislation requiring German companies to allot 30 percent of their non-executive board seats to women from 2016.
Negotiators from the two sides are in talks to form a coalition government. They said the agreement would involve listed companies and those with a works council.
Three weeks of coalition talks have made modest progress. Both sides are making concessions but the conservatives want their victory in September's election reflected in the deal.
Germany introduced voluntary targets for women in top management positions in 2001, but little changed. In 2011 blue-chip companies agreed to try to boost women on boards, again through voluntary targets.
The center-left SPD had pushed for 40 percent women on boards in stages from 2021. The conservatives had resisted fixed targets.
"This is an important signal to improve the career chances for women and for greater equality in the labor market," said Manuela Schwesig, who led the talks for the SPD.
Annette Widmann-Mauz, leading the talks for Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), called the agreement a breakthrough for women.
Under the new law, companies unable to appoint women to at least 30 percent of open board seats from 2016 would be required to leave those seats vacant. Continued...