German minister eyes quotas for female execs unless firms step up

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and leader of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, waves following the start of the CDU’s election rally for Germany’s general election in Dortmund, Germany August 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay) Top News

A government minister on Tuesday blasted German companies for failing to add more women to their management boards, suggesting the government could impose quotas unless firms acted to boost the current rate of 6 percent. Family Minister Katarina Barley, a Social Democrat (SPD), told the RND newspaper chain it was unacceptable that companies had failed to increase the percentage of women in leadership roles after years of promises.

“I give industry one more year to take care of the issue itself. If nothing has happened by then, we’ll have to take legislative action,” Barley told the newspapers in an interview to be published Wednesday. “In many management boards, nothing has happened. Only 6 percent of directors are women. That can’t continue,” she said.

Barley is due to present a report to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet about representation of women in leadership positions on Wednesday. She said she had “no problem with an obligatory quota for women on management boards”, noting that years of pledges had not changed the situation and many companies had a target of zero.

Under German law, women must comprise 30 percent of the supervisory boards of large companies. But there is no law governing the make-up of management boards. Barley’s Social Democrats are now the junior partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in a “grand coalition,” but both parties hope to forge alliances with other small parties and lead the country after a parliamentary election on Sept. 24.

The latest Insa poll showed Merkel’s conservatives with 37 percent support, the SPD with 25 percent, and the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party with 10 percent. Both the pro-business Free Democrats and the far-left Left party had 9 percent support, while the pro-environment Greens were at 3 percent.

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