Mandatory quotas for appointing female execs loom for Dutch firms

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
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Current legislation in the Netherlands to guarantee more women get positions in top level jobs has been unsuccessful. Photo: Getty

Dutch companies could be forced to meet a mandatory quotas of female executives in their boardrooms.

The country’s government is due to vote on a new legislation which will require firms to have at least 33% of women on their supervisory boards. The quota does not cover management boards.

Companies that fail to meet the demands or appoint a man instead in an executive role, will be forced to overturn the appointment.

There are less women in managerial roles as they are more likely to work in part-time roles, the government’s socio-cultural advisory body, the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) said.

According to research from the SCP shows that 74% of Dutch women don’t work the standard 40-hour week, with their average workweek being 28 hours.

The advisory body says that people who work at least 28-hour weeks are likely to move into mid-level positions. The SCP says that senior managers tend to work at least 50 hours a week.

Current legislation in the Netherlands to guarantee more women get positions in top level jobs has been unsuccessful.

In 2020, 67% of listed firms (ENX.PA) didn’t have a single woman on the board of directors — over 43% of supervisory boards were male-only. While the government required companies to have at least 30% females at executive level, this was met by only 10% of firms.

But, in 2013 companies were held to account for not meeting the requirement and since then the number of women on management boards increased from 7% to 12%. The number of women on supervisory boards doubled rising from 10% to 20%.

Employers organisation VNO-NCW hailed the proposed quota system adding: “It is working in Germany, France and Italy and is has made a big difference there,” chairwoman Ingrid Thijssen said.

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Big companies have been under more pressure to appoint more women and ethnic minorities in senior positions, after issues such as diversity and the gender pay gap were highlighted over the last few years.

In November, Germany’s coalition parties made similar moves, when they agreed to introduce a mandatory quota for women in senior positions at leading companies in the country.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and junior partner, the Social Democrats, agreed a bill, which will see at least one female board member on firms listed on the stock exchange (^GDAXI).

A system of voluntary commitments to gender equality has been in force since 2015, but was unsuccessful. Businesses where the German government owns a majority stake, will be required to to fill 30% of the chairs in their boardrooms with women.

According to a survey by the Swedish-German AllBright Foundation, women currently make up only 12.8% of the management boards on firms listed on Germany’s blue-chip DAX index.

In comparison, the proportion of women in leadership roles is 24.5% in the UK, 28.6% in the US, 22.2% in France and 24.9% in Sweden.

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