Dutch companies urged to review and improve gender diversity

The Dutch government is urging some 5,000 companies to improve the gender parity in their management boards.

Thousands of companies in the Netherlands will receive a letter from the Dutch government, urging them to examine the gender diversity in their management and supervisory boards.

The letter will be jointly sent to 5,000 firms by the Dutch government and VNO-NCW, which is a Dutch employers' federation comprised of 115,000 companies.

The letter reportedly says, “The lack of progress is a major concern… We are calling on you to look at where your company is now… and where necessary, take action to realise more diversity at the top.”

“If more progress has not been made by early next year, the government will consider taking ‘strong measures,” it adds.

The letter also provides recruitment guidance to help the companies along their way; for instance, pointing to VNO-NCW’s specially designed database, which carries the profiles of more than 1,500 profiles of women who are 'board-ready'.  

According to Dutch News, the number of women on management boards of companies in the Netherlands is around 11% at present. This figure falls short of the target of 30% that was established in February -- when the country’s management and supervision laws were expanded.

Some 5,000 Dutch companies now fall under the purview of the expanded laws, and were thus the beneficiaries of the letter in question.

Under the new legislation, companies that do not meet the 30% target will have to explain the discrepancy in their annual reports. They will also have to outline actions they are taking to remedy the issue.

Ingrid van Engelshoven, who oversees emancipation issues as part of her duties as the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, has suggested that she is willing to institute “tough measures” -- such as quotes -- to speed up the “pitiful” lack of progress.

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