The German Greens on Saturday criticized a government proposal to force large companies to have at least one woman sit on their executive boards, saying it was not enough.
Ministers in the country’s ruling conservative and Social Democratic coalition approved the move on Friday, which will apply to any company with more than three board members.
But Green Party spokeswoman and member of parliament, Ulle Schauws, said the plan could be even more ambitious.
“It is time for binding quotas for women to be introduced in the executive board,” he said, calling the government’s idea a “minimum”.
Gender balance in German corporate boardrooms has been the subject of major debate for years.
The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) has long called on the government to step in and enact laws, while Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrat has traditionally been more skeptical.
“Some things took too long, but in the end we got into a quota dispute with the Christian Democrats,” said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who also praised the deal. Scholz is also an SPD candidate hoping to replace Merkel as chancellor in the 2021 elections.
‘An important step towards equality’
Marcel Fratzscher, president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) think-tank, told: Handelsblatt a business newspaper on Saturday that the quota was “an important step towards equality and equal opportunity in Germany.”
He said it would “send a strong signal by forcing big companies to do significantly more than before to promote equality and equal opportunity.”
Friday’s agreement will build on a 2015 law that ensures a 30% quota for women on Germany’s supervisory board.
Sitting on the supervisory board is a non-executive role. Its members are usually elected by the company’s shareholders to promote good governance, hire and fire senior management and review key business decisions taken by the chief executive.
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While women made up 28% of the supervisory board of Germany’s top companies in 2018, they only accounted for 10% of executive positions.
Jennifer Morgan became the first female CEO of a German blue-chip company last year, deputy leader of the SAP business software group.
But he stepped down in April, leaving Christian Klein as the company’s sole CEO.
Daimler, the Stuttgart-based auto giant, has two female executives who currently serve on its management board.
cf / mm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)