Germany plans legal quotas for women on non-executive boards

Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:43pm EDT
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By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - More than 100 listed German companies will be required to allocate 30 percent of seats on their non-executive boards to women, under planned new laws which were dismissed by critics as tokenism.

Although Europe's biggest economy has a female leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel, women are under-represented in business life.

Among the 30 largest companies on Germany's blue-chip DAX index, women occupied about 22 percent supervisory board seats and around 6 percent of executive board seats at the end of last year, according to the DIW economic think-tank.

The plans unveiled by center-left ministers in Merkel's coalition government would apply to listed companies which have employee representation on their supervisory boards - affecting more than 100 firms.

They will be phased in from 2016 - rather than firms overhauling their supervisory boards, they will gradually work towards meeting the quota through filling vacancies that arise.

Companies not meeting the quota will be required to fill vacancies with women or else will have to leave the positions unfilled.

In addition, the plans require about 3,500 firms which are either listed or have employee representation on supervisory boards to set goals to raise the proportion of women on both executive and non-executive boards and in top management from 2015.

If they fail to meet their goals, the firms will have to explain why, under the plans, but no penalty was proposed.   Continued...