Diversity quotas

Women Need to Storm the Citadels of Power

Letting in the women. Source: Handelsblatt.
Letting in the women.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If Germany does not manage to increase the number of women at board level, companies will lose out on expertise and skills.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Germany’s parliament votes Friday on whether to introduce quotas for women.
    • Under proposed laws, listed comppanies would have to give half of all seats on non executive boards to companies by 2018.
    • State controlled companies would have to introduce similar quotas.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

 

Libertarians are by nature opponents of government intervention in free enterprise. Their creed is entrepreneurial freedom is best for everyone, and quotas and regulations are poison. But what has happened in the German economy with regard to women’s participation has caused even impassioned libertarians to diverge from orthodoxy.

The male-dominated corporate world remained frozen in time. So outrageously little has been done for women’s progress that the German parliament has decided to act, and will vote Friday on a proposed law concerning a quota for women.

Part of the proposal mandates that women hold 30 percent of the seats on the supervisory boards of listed companies. Other companies will also have to take concrete steps to get more women into senior positions.

The issue of whether quotas work is up for debate. But in Germany, their introduction is certainly justified, as an emergency response to years of inactivity.

This legislation is not about wanting to increase regulation or introduce some sort of vague “good thing.” It is about something that should be a matter of course in a country that has a constitution that proclaims no one should be disadvantaged because of gender, but also has an economy dominated by men who see the corporate world as their fiefdom, as if it is a law of nature that they should be in charge.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.