Senate backs quotas for women on listed firm supervisory boards


The Dutch senate has voted in favour of legislation which will bring in a compulsory quota for the supervisory boards of listed companies to ensure at least 30% of their members are women.

In addition, the legislation obliges the country’s 5,000 biggest firms to draw up concrete targets to ensure more balance between board and senior management level. The law is likely to come into effect at the start of 2022.

MPs voted in favour of the measure in December 2019.

Last September, the government’s SER advisory body called for compulsory quotas to make company leadership a fairer reflection of society. The VNO NCW business lobby group also came out in support of a quota for the first time.

The number of women in boardroom jobs at Dutch listed companies has improved and only 28 out of 89 listed companies do not yet meet the target. Yet 15 of them, including Sligro and Vastned, do not have any women on their supervisory board, according to the most recent version of the Female Board Index.

Some 33.2% of supervisory board members are female, but only 13.6% of listed company management boards. Management boards are not covered by the new legislation.

Last year, the government’s socio-cultural advisory group SCP said women are underrepresented in managerial roles in the Netherlands because they are more likely to work part time.

Only when people work at least 28 hours a week, are they likely to move into middle management jobs, the SCP researchers said.


Research published by pension research group Netspar on Wednesday showed that women build up much smaller pensions than men, because so many of them work part time. In 2018, men had an average pension of €34,000 and women just €20,000, Netspar said.

The Dutch pension gap is the worst in Europe, apart from in Cyprus.

Women should be better informed about what having a part time job means for their pensions, and this could encourage more to work full time, the agency said.

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