Diversity at the top: establishing a legal women’s quota

Research by the Gender and Diversity Hub

Chantal Remery (UU, linksboven), Kirsten van den Hul (Tweede Kamer, rechtsboven), Mirella Visser (NVR & Centre for Inclusive Leadership, rechtsonder) & Linda Senden (UU, linksonder) tijdens een vergadering op 29 januari 2021.
Chantal Remery (UU, top left), Kirsten van den Hul (Tweede Kamer, top right), Mirella Visser (NVR & Centre for Inclusive Leadership, bottom right) & Linda Senden (UU, bottom left), during a meeting on January 29, 2021.

Various members of the Gender and Diversity Hub collaborate with Mirella Visser (Centre for Inclusive Leadership/Nederlandse Vrouwenraad) and Anneke van Doorne-Huiskes (Nederlandse Vrouwenraad) on the issue of how the establishment of quota rules can help to enhance the number of women on corporate boards. The Hub, NVR and the Centre for Inclusive Leadership wrote a joint vision concerning this subject, which they presented to the SER. On 20 September 2019, the SER issued its advice to the government, which does for the first time propose some form of legally binding quota rule.

Quota rules

The vision of the Hub and the NVR is based on an integrated approach at a societal, organisational and individual level. Attention also needs to be paid to the Dutch context and a recognition that legal quota have proven to be effective in many other countries. Without the introduction of a more mandatory quota rule, the decreasing international reputation on gender equality of the Netherlands will further deteriorate and the credibility of the government as well. It is worrying that the international reputation of the Netherlands as a country that values equality between men and women is increasingly eroded.

See also the follow-up actions below undertaken by the Hub, the NVR and the Centre for Inclusive Leadership in response to the proposed legislation. While such a mandatory legal approach is very much supported, there is still room for improvement in the framing of the law and its enforcement mechanisms so as to ensure its effectiveness:

Recommendations in response to the draft bill on May 11, 2020

Letter with suggestions to the Vaste Kamercommissie OCW, December 9th, 2020 (in Dutch)

The Hub, the NVR and the Center for Inclusive Leadership have discussed these recommendations with members of de Tweede Kamer. After a long preparation period in which the team has been involved, the bill has been discussed in de Tweede Kamer at the beginning of 2021. On Thursday February 11th, the Tweede Kamer has approved the bill of Ministers Sander Dekker (legal protection) and Ingrid van Engelshoven (emancipation) for the introduction of establishing a growth quota and target figure. An important step in the right direction.

See also

The joint piece by the Hub, NVR and the Centre for Inclusive Leadership, published at Stuk Rood Vlees (in Dutch)

Three questions to Linda Senden about quota arrangements

SER advice: “Diversiteit in de Top, Tijd voor Versnelling” (in Dutch)

Joint vision presented to the SER

In the media

Linda Senden and Mirella Visser in De Volkskrant, March 7th, 2019

Linda Senden in AD, March 8th, 2019 (in Dutch)

Linda Senden in NRC, September 6, 2019 (in Dutch)

Related events

Brown Bag Lunch Conversation: Enhancing Women’s Representation in Decision-Making Bodies, December 10th, 2019

Report: Brown Bag Lunch Conversation “Enhancing Women’s Representation in Decision-Making Bodies” (in Dutch)

Involved researchers

Linda Senden

Mara Yerkes

Ekaterina Rashkova

Chantal Remery

Mirella Visser (NVR / Centre for Inclusive Leadership)

Anneke van Doorne-Huiskes (NVR)