Germany's Corporate Boards Lag Behind on Women

Monday, November 28, 2011

European countries have been following the lead of Norway and instituting quotas for women on corporate boards. Nele Feldmann says Germany should follow suit and demand more from companies than voluntary promises.

(WOMENSENEWS)--New quota requirements are changing the gender mix of corporate boardrooms across Europe ever since Norway led the way by passing a quota law of 40 percent in 2003.

Since then plenty of other European countries have followed:

Spain: 40 percent by 2015 for market-listed companies or those with more than 250 employees.

France: 40 percent by 2017 for market-listed companies or those with more than 500 employees.

The Netherlands: 30 percent by 2016 for market-listed companies or those with more than 250 employees.

Iceland: 40 percent by 2013 for companies with more than 50 employees.

Italy: 30 percent by 2015 for market-listed companies.

Belgium: 30 percent by 2016 for big market-listed companies and by 2019 for small- and medium-sized companies.

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And what about Germany, where women make up 15 percent of the board of directors?

Chancellor Angela Merkel recently expressed satisfaction with a pledge by some blue-chip companies at an October meeting to voluntarily increase women on their boards at varying paces. There Lufthansa pledged a figure of between 15 and 30 percent by the end of 2020. Adidas talked about 30 percent by the end of 2015.

Kristina Schröder, 34, minister of family affairs and a political newcomer, joined Merkel's happy acceptance of these vague promises from the country's top-30 companies.

Fortunately, Ursula von der Leyen, 54, a former minister of family affairs, spoke up. "I already asked for a compulsory women quota in January as for 10 years now I am witnessing that the voluntary agreement does not result in a satisfying outcome," she was quoted as saying by press reports.

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This report confirms my view that having a woman in a top position like Angela Merkel does not translate into gains for women per se.