More Women on Boards – The Economist

Published: 26/11/2013

The Economist published in its business section of the magazine – Nov 23rd 2013 edition – a paragraph on women on boards and alongside published a graph. This was probably pormpted by the news coming from Germany that the German government has agreed on a 30% NED quota – a “Frauenquote” – as of 2016 for all companies listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange.

We applaud the Economist publishing a news item on the topic, however, I believe that they should have been more careful with the words they chose. I quote the article verbatim:

“Some European countries impose quotas for the share of women on big firms’ boards. Germany is to join them: its main parties, negotiating a coalition after September’s election, agreed this week to require that supervisory boards be at least 30% female by 2016. Germany is a laggard when it comes to women on boards, though the numbers have been rising, as they have in places such as Britain that have no quotas. Russell Reynolds, a headhunting firm, finds that many of the new women on boards are young and are recruited from abroad. This suggests that qualified women are scarce. So Germany may also set targets for promoting women through the ranks of management.”

It would have been nice if there was a longer article written on this topic as it deserves more than just a mention. I assume that they are only referring to German women in this article. Still saying that women are scarce is wrong. They aren’t. Even if the boards are recruiting young women from abroad it doesn’t mean that there aren’t senior professional women in Germany that could and would like do the job. Plus what is the problem with maturity on German boards?

I think the issue is portrayed in very simplistic terms here without a proper analysis and the conclusion is lacking