Saturday 15 August 2020

Government advice body recommends 30% quotas for female leadership


A government policy advisory group has called for compulsory quotas to make company leadership a fairer reflection of society.

The SER on Friday published its call for “firm rules” and a new approach to improve diversity to make it “the new normal” to have as many women as men in top roles, as well as plenty of people with a non-Western background.

It proposed that the top 100 Dutch listed companies should be forced to make 30% of positions on their supervisory boards available for female candidates at risk of German-style sanctions, sacking other board members.

Mariëtte Hamer, chairperson of the SER, told the NOS broadcaster that a 2013 law asking companies to ‘strive’ for a fairer reflection of society has not been successful. ‘It has had no discernible effect, the number of women is static and cultural diversity isn’t growing at all so something really needs to change,’ she said.

‘Supervisory boards must have 30% women, if they don’t they must appoint a woman, and if they fail to do this, other appointments will be annulled.’

The business association the VNO NCW has come out in support of a quota for the first time too. Hans de Boer, chairman, told the NOS: ‘We should have been able to sort this out ourselves, but now women in the VNO NCW management are saying this has to happen.

‘I think we have a good solution: large companies need a quota and all others need their own initiatives to get more women in the pipeline.’

Earlier this year equal opportunities minister Ingrid van Engelshoven aimed to ‘name and shame’ large companies with a lack of women at board level, saying only 13 of the largest 200 met the government target and that their excuses were often ‘pathetic’.

However, in August, government think tanks the CPB and SCP claimed that such a quota would not boost profitability, based on results in other countries.

Their report suggested more should be done to address stereotypes within companies, change a ‘part-time culture’ of work amongst Dutch women and look at whether women were more risk or competition averse, despite young women being better educated than men. It did not consider whether management positions could be shared or carried out in reduced hours.

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