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German Parliament Backs ‘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 firms, advancing a measure in Parliament that might set a quota for ladies on administration boards.

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

The measure is predicted to obtain ultimate passage by Germany’s higher home this summer time. Companies will face monetary penalties for failing to satisfy the brand new regulation.

“Highly qualified women still come up against glass ceilings far too often,” stated 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 stated 66 private-sector firms, 21 of which nonetheless haven’t any ladies on their administration boards, can be affected by the brand new guidelines. Included within the regulation is break day for government board members who select to take depart for sickness, or to care for a new child or relations.

In adopting the proposal, Germany is constructing on a 2015 regulation requiring a few of Europe’s largest firms to provide 30 % of supervisory seats to ladies.

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

In anticipation of Parliament’s passing new laws, six German firms, together with Adidas and 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 massive listed firms, the report stated, nonetheless haven’t 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, stated in November, earlier than the proposed regulation reached Parliament.

According to a 2020 survey by the AllBright Foundation, ladies occupy solely 12.8 % 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,” stated Janina Kugel, who served as chief human resources 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 crucial sign, however not sufficient. Equality, she stated, is 50 %.

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

The proposal permitted by the German Parliament is “sort of a wake-up call for companies and male top managers to really consider to change their behavior,” stated 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 stated. “We are not pushing men to the side; it’s the contrary, we have to work together.”

Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.