On 25 November 2014, the Grand Coalition agreed to introduce a new law which will force listed companies in Germany to allocate 30 percent of the seats on non-executive boards to women from 2016 onward. In Germany, the proportion of men in boardrooms is still at over 80 percent. A recent survey by the Women in Supervisory Boards (FidAR) found the proportion of women in non-listed supervisory board positions has even declined over the past year. The new law would apply to listed companies which have employee representation on their supervisory boards, i.e. listed companies with more than 2.000 employees. More than 100 firms would be affected by these regulations. If these companies fail to allocate 30 percent of the seats on non-executive boards to women until 2016, the seats shall remain empty. Apart from these companies, 3.500 medium-sized companies would be obliged to determine their own quota for executive and supervisory board seats effective 2015. However, there shall be no sanctions if these companies fail to achieve their internal goals to increase the percentage of female board members. The cabinet is expected to pass the law on 11 December 2014. Click here to read the draft law (in German) – „Gesetz für die gleichberechtigte Teilhabe von Frauen und Männern an Führungspositionen in der Privatwirtschaft und im Öffentlichen Dienst”.
Nicolai Behr is a compliance and dispute resolution attorney in Baker & McKenzie’s Munich office. He is a member of the steering committee of GlobalComplianceNews, a compliance news website with global reach moderated by Baker & McKenzie. He is a member of the committee "International" of the German Institute for Compliance. Dr. Behr is a regular speaker on compliance and white collar topics.