No more glass ceiling? Germany seeks female boardroom quota deal

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a media statement after a video conference of EU leaders on the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2020. Michel Kappeler/Pool via REUTERS

The German minister for women said on Wednesday she hopes the coalition government will soon agree a quota for women on the executive boards of Germany’s top listed companies, building on a 30% quota on supervisory boards introduced in 2015.

Franziska Giffey spoke as she presented the government’s first equality strategy, which bundles together measures that aim to get more women into leadership roles, narrow the gender pay gap and improve work-life balance.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her support last week for setting a quota for executive boards and said she was talking to Giffey, who proposed legislation on the issue in February but still needs to get Merkel’s Christian Democrats on board.

Giffey, from Merkel’s Social Democrat coalition partners, said she hoped for a deal this summer on her plan for executive boards of about 100 listed companies to include at least one woman if the top team is made up of more than three people.

“I don’t think this is an unreasonable burden, but rather a sign of a modern country,” she said.

While women made up 34% of the supervisory boards of Germany’s companies that were bound by the quota in 2019, they only accounted for 10% of executive positions.

Jennifer Morgan became the first woman CEO of a German blue-chip company last year, as co-leader of business software group SAP, but she stepped down in April, leaving Christian Klein as the company’s sole CEO.

Giffey also wants to introduce a target for women to have an equal number of leadership positions in the public sector by the end of 2025 and promote more women in politics, noting that the number of female members of parliament is at a 20-year low.

The Christian Democrats have agreed steps to achieve equal representation of women within their regional and national governing bodies by 2025, two-party sources said on Wednesday.