In December 2014, the German government introduced legislation to increase the number of women in senior positions in Germany’s leading organisations. From 2016, at least 30% of all supervisory board positions in Germany’s largest companies must be held by women.
The so-called ‘Frauenquote’ will only apply to publicly listed companies where more than 50% of board positions are held by employees (some 108 organisations). Failure to meet the targets by 2016 will result in sanctions and the requirement to leave board positions unoccupied until the 30% quota is achieved. Mid-size companies and federal administration offices will also be expected to introduce their own targets for senior female representation, although no sanctions will be applied.
The move, which follows similar legislation in Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, is intended to address the high pay gap between men and women in Germany (currently 22%), as well as increase the number of women in top leadership positions: just 5.8% of chief executives in Germany’s largest companies are women.
Although there has been fierce resistance to the legislation in some areas, politicians hope that the ‘Frauenquote’ will bring about a change in working practices in German companies. One third of those companies listed in the main German stock exchange (DAX) already meet the quota.
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