Women of substance - the European view

Should there be enforced gender quotas?
Should there be enforced gender quotas?

Recently Germany’s Parliament gave a thumbs up to a new employment quota system requiring its biggest 100 private sector companies to have at least 30% female board membership.

The legislation, which will seek to boost female non-executive board numbers from their current 18.6% level, will be applied as vacancies emerge from 2016. If firms do not fulfil this requirement then they will be obliged to leave the position unfilled.

Another 3,500 firms will, by law, be required to set targets to boost their number of female directors and leading managers.

By introducing the quotas, which some commentators stressed did not go far enough, Germany follows similar legislation in other European nations such as Norway, Spain and France.

Here in the UK there has also been a major push to increase the representation of women on the boards of our biggest companies.

The Lord Davies report of 2011 set out voluntary targets for FTSE 100 firms with the aim of doubling female board membership from 12.5% to 25% or better by the end of 2015.

Progress has been good with the latest figures from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in October 2014 revealing representation of 22.8%.

According to the BIS 160 women had been appointed to FTSE 100 boards over the period with individual companies such as insurer Old Mutual boosting their female boardroom representation from zero to as much as 38.5%.

In our next installment of our Women of Substance series, we’ll take a closer look at the representation of women at board level in UK firms...

Quotas introduced to get more women on boards
Quotas introduced to get more women on boards