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Germany - Up your women quotas or we'll legislate, Minister tells industry

17 October 2011

The debate over whether to introduce legal quotas for women in boardrooms or leave the matter to industry self-regulation continues. Out of the 190 board members of the 30 largest quoted German companies (DAX 30), only six are currently women.

In a high level meeting today between management of the DAX 30 companies and Employment Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the Minister will argue that legislation will have to be introduced unless self-regulation starts to show serious results.

Von der Leyen told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper "I am convinced that if nothing continues to happen at the top level of DAX 30 companies, we will need to legislate."

Earlier this year, von der Leyen's plan to introduce legislation on women quotas met with the veto of her boss, Chancellor (Prime Minister) Angela Merkel.

Representatives of the DAX 30 companies will today present their proposals on how they intend to increase the share of women among middle and upper management to 30% by the year 2020.

Kristina Schröder, Minister for Family Affairs, will today argue that companies should be allowed to set their own individual targets for women quotas but must then be held to account and fined 25,000 Euro if they don't meet their own targets.

Von der Leyen said further "I am going to look personally at each of the [DAX 30] companies in detail. There are those who are at the forefront and there are those who will forever live in the past. We should name them and shame them because we have had enough lip service now."

Markus Kerber, Managing Director of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), commented "almost all DAX 30 companies have set themselves targets on women quotas. Among younger women of up to 39 years of age, the share is already 38%."

"With 15% Germany ranks above the European Union average of 11% of women's share in the boardroom. Almost 40% of all new board positions in DAX 30 companies were filled with women this year. A legal quota set by the government is therefore not necessary."

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