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German companies required to name more women to top board posts

Friday, March 6, 2015 - 18:37

[BERLIN] Large German companies must appoint more women to their non-executive oversight boards beginning next year after legislation cleared its final hurdle.

The lower house of parliament approved a bill Friday mandating more than 100 of the biggest listed companies to allocate 30 per cent of supervisory board positions to women. Last month, the upper house signed off on the measure, which also requires large companies to present a plan to address gender imbalance in top management posts.

"This is a historical step, the quota is coming," Manuela Schwesig, family affairs minister, told lawmakers ahead of the vote in Berlin.

The government overcame opposition from some industry groups and parts of Chancellor Angela Merkel's own Christian Democratic-led bloc - who argued that the country shouldn't set a mandate - to pass the law. Supporters said a legal requirement is necessary to advance gender equality.

While Europe's largest economy has a female leader and women hold key government posts, including the Defense Ministry, just 6 per cent of management board positions and 22 per cent of supervisory board seats are held by women at companies in Germany's benchmark DAX Index, according to the Economy Ministry.

Passing the law was a condition for the Social Democrats to enter into the government with Merkel's faction in 2013. Merkel, Germany's first female chancellor, had previously supported a voluntary quota, seeking balance with conservatives in her party who rejected the idea.

BLOOMBERG

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