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Family Minister, Social Democrat Franziska Giffey, is one of the instigators of the bill to tax women on the boards of major companies in the country. Michael Kappeler / via REUTERS
Germany plans to impose the presence of women on the boards of directors of large listed companies, according to a bill presented on Wednesday January 6. The continent’s largest economy is lagging far behind on this issue.
According to a recent study by the German-Swedish foundation Allbright, women represent only 12.8% of the members of the boards of directors of the thirty companies listed on the DAX, the flagship index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. This proportion is 28.6% in the United States, 24.9% in Sweden, 24.5% in Great Britain and 22.2% in France, according to the same study.
At least one woman on the board
According to the bill, which has yet to be passed by MPs by the end of the term in September, at least one woman will have to sit on the governing bodies of German companies with more than three directors. Seventy-three companies would be affected by the rule change, thirty-two of which currently do not have a woman on their board of directors.
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The appointment of women will also be compulsory on the boards of directors of companies where the State is a shareholder and in several public bodies.
“We can show that Germany is on the way to becoming a modern society with a future”, declared the Minister for the Family, the social democrat Franziska Giffey, who carried the text with her colleague of justice, the social democrat Christine Lambrecht. The latter greeted a “Important signal for highly qualified women”, calling on businesses to “Use luck” offered by this quota to increase the feminization of management positions.
Strong resistance from employers
Despite the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the text arouses much resistance within her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which governs with the Social Democrats of the SPD. “We will do everything to prevent female quotas”, launched Hans Michelbach, member of the CSU, close to economic circles. The project is also criticized by part of the employers who denounce interference in the governance of companies and argue “Shortage of female candidates” to these positions.
This strong resistance led forty women to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the country’s public opinion in November, because, as the German Economic Research Institute (DIW) estimates, the participation of women in the governing bodies of groups in the country evolves to a “Snail rhythm”.
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