Recently, the large chamber decided with a very small majority in favor of the women’s quota. With 95 to 94 votes, the members of the National Council voted in favor of the regulation on the advancement of women as a part of the revision of the company law. In the future, the female representation shall be 30% on boards of directors and 20% on management boards (see also: Is the quota for women up-coming?). By introducing this, a first hurdle has been cleared, but not all obstacles have been removed. The Upper Chamber still has to accept the women’s quota.

The quota works

This is impressively demonstrated by the example of Germany. In order to promote equality between men and women, a women’s quota of 30% has been applied to supervisory boards of 105 listed companies in January 2016. While only 27 women sat on the DAX supervisory boards before that, there are now 81 of a total of 256 supervisory positions that are occupied by women – within only 3 years (!) the quota was brought over the 30% mark. It is currently 32%.

However, Germany has stricter rules than the planned regulation in Switzerland. In Germany a company, which is linked to the quota and has less than 30% women in its control committee, must allocate vacant positions to women until the 30% mark is reached. Otherwise, the place would remain unoccupied („empty chair“).

In Switzerland, a soft quota, according to the principle „comply or explain“, is being discussed. Those companies, who do not achieve the target values, only have to explain the reasons, why they didn’t reach the goal, and seek for measures for improvement in a compensation report.

With the Equal Opportunities Act for Women and Men coming into force at the beginning of the year, Austria is also following the suit. For companies with 1’000 or more employees, 30% of the positions must be occupied by women.

These examples show that the female representation in companies is increasingly gaining in importance and visibility and is also clarifies that there are enough women available for the positions.

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