The parties in Angela Merkel’s coalition government agreed to introduce a mandatory quota of women in the top management of German listed companies, which was hailed as a big step towards gender equality on the the German workplace.
Franziska Giffey, Minister for Families and Women, called the deal a historic breakthrough. “We are ending C-suites without women in large companies,” she said, adding that the attempt to encourage companies to hire more female executives on a voluntary basis had failed.
According to an agreement between Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their junior partner, the Social Democrats, boards of more than three members must in future include at least one woman. A system of voluntary commitments in favor of gender equality, in force since 2015, has not yielded results.
The defenders of equality were jubilant. “Big, big joy,” tweeted Jutta Allmendinger, professor of sociology at Humboldt University in Berlin, who was one of the leading activists for the quota.
But German business groups will be dismayed by the deal. They argued that a quota represented unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of companies, and that there was a shortage of suitable female candidates for leadership positions.
Women currently make up only 12.8% of the boards of German companies listed on the blue-chip Dax index, according to a recent poll by the Swedish-German AllBright Foundation. The proportion of women in managerial positions is 28.6% in the United States, 24.9% in Sweden and 24.5% in the United Kingdom.
More worryingly, the investigation found that German C-suites have become even more male-dominated in recent months. She found that the number of women in leadership positions in Germany had fallen to 23 in early September, from 29 a year earlier.
Germany’s balance sheet is even worse if companies from the smaller MDax and SDax indexes are included. Only 10 percent of senior management positions across the 160 Dax, MDax and SDax firms are held by women. The study found that 11 companies in Dax had no women on their boards.
The cause of equality received a big boost last year when Jennifer Morgan was appointed co-CEO of Europe’s most valuable software group, SAP, making her the first woman to lead of a company listed on the DAX. But she only lasted six months In work.
This week it was announced that she has been hired by Blackstone to take on a new role of Global Head of Portfolio Transformation and Talent.
The situation will improve somewhat next year, however, when Belen Garijo, a 60-year-old Spaniard, takes over the reins of pharmaceutical company Merck.
The agreement between the CDU / CSU and the SPD also stipulates that 30 percent of the seats on the supervisory boards of companies in which the government has a majority stake should be reserved for women.
A quota of women will also be introduced for public bodies such as health, pension and accident insurance funds, and the Federal Labor Office. Currently, women represent only 14% of management positions in these agencies.
The deal, which was negotiated by a working group made up of members of government parties, will be presented to the leaders of the respective parties next week for approval and will be adopted by the German cabinet in the coming months, the ministry said. Justice.
“We offer qualified and motivated women the opportunities they deserve,” said Christine Lambrecht, Minister of Justice. “This is a great success for women in Germany which at the same time offers a great opportunity for society and the companies themselves.