Women executive quota coming in 2016
Published on: 26 Nov 2014 08:56 CET
After months of back-and-forth bickering, the ruling coalition of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) has signed a women's executive quota into law on Wednesday.
Starting in 2016, the 108 largest firms in Germany will be required to have a minimum 30 percent of their board positions filled by women, no exceptions.
Businesses who don't comply will face sanctions and will have to leave some board chairs open in order to meet the quota.
The law is being met with criticisms and concerns from the businesses that will be subject to it, including the argument that it treads on constitutional rights.
"Stiff quotas are not the way to bring women into leadership roles," said a speaker for the medical company Fresenius, which currently has no women in its executive positions.
"We fill positions based on qualifications and not on sex," said someone from Bayer.
"A quota like this ignores that the crucial criteria is professional qualifications," said the German Employers' Association (BDA). "It is constitutionally questionable to dismiss a candidate because they are the wrong sex."
According to the group "Women on the Board", there were only 316 women filling the 1,669 director positions of 160 DAX-traded companies. They added that 27 of those companies already meet the quota, including Deutsche Bank, Henkel, Lufthansa, Adidas and Deutsche Telekom.
The passing of the bill comes after months of politicians on both sides arguing in public like an unhappy couple.
"Mrs. Family Minister should not be so whiny, and just implement the coalition's agreement, then everything will be fine," Volker Kauder, the head of the CDU's parliamentary group, said on ZDF'S Morgenmagazin.
The SPD came to the defense of party member Manuela Schwesig, the Minister for Families, slinging back. "If men think this whole thing is annoying, it shows that men have a problem," said party leader Sigmar Gabriel.
At issue was the policing of the law and how firms subject to it would have to report on the number of women in executive positions.
Says Schwesig: "Statements like this roll off me."
Negotiations on the bill have lasted the better part of a year.