Dutch business world supports quota for women in top positions

A quota is needed to get more women in top positions in Dutch companies, the social and economic council SER said in a report on Thursday. Only giving companies a goal is not working, according to the council. Employers'- and employees' organizations support this quota, NOS and NU.nl report.

In 2013 listed Dutch businesses were given the legal target of having 30 percent women in the top of their companies. But in practice, few companies achieved that goal, the latest business monitor showed. On average only one in eight directors and 18.4 percent of supervisory directors of large companies are women. Half of all companies did not say anything at all about the diversity of its employees in its annual report, although this is a legal requirement.

The SER therefore calls on the government to implement a mandatory quota for listed companies' supervisory boards. "If a company does not meet the 30 percent quota, the next member to be appointed must be a woman. If a suitable woman cannot be found, the chair will remain empty", SER chair Mariette Hamer explained to NOS. The SER does not think a quota is needed for the board of directors. "The idea is that if the supervisory boards are more diverse, the directors will eventually become so. After all, board members are appointed by the supervisory board."

Employers organization VNO-NCW supports the SER proposal for a quota, a turnaround for the business world. VNO-NCW chairman Hans de Boer previously called a quota a weakness and said that companies would take action themselves to increase the number of women at the top. "Nevertheless, we have to conclude that this was going too slowly", De Boer now said to the broadcaster. "And although I continue to find it a weakness, we are therefore making new proposals today that should lead to a radical break in the trend."

D66 parliamentarian Vera Bergkamp called for such a quota to be implemented last week. Earlier this year Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven of Education, Culture and Science told Financieele Dagblad that she would not shy away from "harsh measures" to get more women in top positions.