[JURIST] Germany’s lower house of parliament [official website] passed legislation on Friday requiring large companies to allocate 30 percent of non-executive board seats to women, after a survey found that women remain grossly under represented in big business. The survey found that the chief executives of Germany’s largest 30 firms listed on the blue chip Dax index [Reuters] are all male. The new quotas will come into effect in 2016, and the legislation requires more than 100 listed companies with employee representation on their supervisory boards to be made up of 30 percent women. About 3,500 medium sized companies will have to determine their own quota. Companies that do not meet the quota will have to fill vacancies with women or leave those positions empty. Family Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig [official website, in German] called the legislation a “historic step” for equal rights. Critics argue that the legislation adds a layer of bureaucracy without addressing the real problem fueling women under-representation [Reuters report] in the business world: a lack of childcare and short school days.
Norway was the first country in the world to impose a gender quota in 2003, with France, Spain, and the Netherlands following suit. In 2010, India’s upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha, approved a bill [JURIST report] to ensure that one-third of seats in parliament are reserved for women. Women are not only under represented in the boardroom, but face discrimination based on their looks [JURIST commentary] and not their work product.