BASF’s Voscherau opposes boardroom quota for women

27 April 2011 23:21  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--BASF’s supervisory board chairman Eggert Voscherau is opposed to a possible EU plan that would set quotas for the employment and representation of women in executive and board positions, he said on Wednesday.

Such “rigid, legally prescribed” quotas are “a bankruptcy declaration” on the part of politicians, Voscherau said in an article he contributed to German business daily Financial Times Deutschland.

While nobody is opposed to women in high-ranking positions, said Voscherau, who also heads Germany’s chemicals employers group BAVCa quota is the wrong way to achieve that objective.

With quotas, politicians want to enforce top-down what should grow and develop from the bottom upwards, he said. “Proponents of a quota ignore the reality within companies,” he added.

In the chemical industry, companies are looking to recruit people with competence in science and technology, who they then train over many years to become executives, Voscherau said. However, the share of women with degrees in sciences, engineering, technology and mathematics is still relatively low in Germany, and many women do not seem to be interested in those fields, he said, adding that changing this situation requires a “change in culture". 

Given the realties in Germany at this time, a quota for women in executive positions would not provide a single qualified candidate, Voscherau added. What may help, however, could be a quota for women in natural science and mathematics courses in schools, colleges and universities, he said.

In a recent interview, BASF CEO Jurgen Hambrecht also warned against prescribing a quota for women. BASF currently has no female executive board members.

However, next month, Margret Suckale, BASF's senior vice president for global human resources, is due to become the first woman to join the company's executive board.

According to a recent study by economics research institute DIW Berlin, women account for only 3.2% of top executive and board positions at Germany’s 200 largest companies.

Meanwhile, Germany’s chemical employers have warned about a skills shortage as the country’s population continues to age.

For more on BASF and other producers visit ICIS company intelligence

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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