Opinion: A quota for women - it′s about time! | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 26.11.2014
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Opinion: A quota for women - it's about time!

Nearly everything that could possibly be said about a quota for women in German boardrooms has been said, but the remark that it's a "historic event" moved DW's Dagmar Engel to find time to write down her opinion.

Well, it's about time! Men in Germany can no longer be forced to carry the entire burden of responsibility that comes with sitting on companies' supervisory boards. It is simply no longer tenable that men alone are responsible when banks send the entire world into a crisis, when corporations stutter and suffer and when people lose their jobs. It's time for women to shoulder some of the responsibility ... as moving as it has been, though, to see men's knuckles turning white from clenching the armrests of their fancy leather chairs in their corporate offices - all to protect women from the hardship, of course. Now they can finally let go. And no one will be able to accuse them of letting go because of weakness. With no other choice, they are now being forced to let go.

Mediocrity for mediocrity

In a tour de force at a snail's pace, businesses have overcome the first hurdle down the path toward equality. The new legal quota - if enacted - will force about 100 companies whose supervisory boards are up for confirmation starting from the year after next to find spots for a total of 233 women. With about 80 million people living in Germany - half of them female - that sounds like it should be doable.

Dagmar Engel

Dagmar Engel is editor-in-chief at DW's Berlin bureau

When it comes to questions of eligibility, you only need to take a look at the resumes of the supervisory board members currently holding the posts. Equality will not be reached until mediocre men are replaced by equally capable and just as mediocre women.

How culture changes

The quota, as it has currently been introduced by the grand coalition government, will only affect a small circle of people. But these are the elite who have the influence and make the decisions. The allocation of management positions, the working environment, corporate culture.

People tend to promote people who are similar to themselves. It's what men have always done. As women are not better people, they will do the same and promote women. The critical mass it will take to change companies and organizations in a sustainable way is about 30 percent. When that point is reached, a quota will be unnecessary and the law can be done away with. The law will bring about a cultural shift, said German Family Minister Manuela Schwesig. The country needs optimistic women - at all levels.

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