At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011, men still outnumbered women by a ratio of more than five to one. This corresponds to a large underrepresentation of women in leading positions in the private sector worldwide. Only 3% of the CEOs of the world’s largest 500 companies are women. In Germany, only 27% of managers are female. In France, the share of women in managerial positions is only somewhat higher (36,6% according to Eurostat).
In Germany, an equal opportunity law for the private sector failed due to the resistance of the employers’ associations. Instead, in 2001 a voluntary agreement between industry and the federal government was signed. However, not all managers are familiar with this voluntary agreement and it’s implementation is slow, incomplete and insatisfactory. Today, the voluntary agreement is regarded as a failure and a quota for women in business and management is back on the political agenda in Germany.
In contrast to Germany, other European countries already adopted legally binding gender quotas for the private sector, including Norway, the Netherlands and Austria. In January 2011 also the French parliament decided to implement a women’s quota, which becomes legally binding in 2017. 40% of board members of listed companies as well as of companies with more than 500 employees or with a sales volume of more than 50 million euros will have to be female. Today, within the EU only in Sweden and Finland women represent over 20% of board members.
Therefore, many countries are well advised to put legally binding gender quotas for the private sector and the interdiction and sanctioning of wage discrimination on their political agenda!
Related article on this blog: World Economic Forum at Davos: Where have all the women gone?
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