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Germany agrees ‘historic’ mandatory boardroom quota for women | Business

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Germany’s coalition government will introduce a mandatory quota for the number of women working as senior management in the country’s listed companies, in a move hailed as a “historic” step towards sexual equality in German boardrooms.

In a deal agreed on Friday evening by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their junior partner the Social Democrats, management boards with more than three members must include at least one woman, reversing a voluntary system that critics argue has failed to achieve the required shift towards more gender equality.

Franziska Giffey, Germany’s federal minister for women, said: “This one breakthrough is historic. We are putting an end to women-free boardrooms in large companies. We are setting an example for a sustainable, modern society. We are exploiting all of our country’s potential so that the best in mixed teams can be more successful. Because nothing is done voluntarily and we need guidelines to move forward.”

The move comes after recent research found the representation of women in senior management in German companies was lagging peers in rival major economies.

Women make up 12.8% of the management boards of the 30 largest German companies listed on the blue-chip Dax index, according to a September survey by the Swedish-German AllBright foundation. The figure compares with 28.6% in the US, 24.5% in the UK and 22.2% in France, the study said.

The research also stated that Dax companies are losing women in senior positions, while “the number of Dax companies without a single woman on the board [has increased] from six companies in the previous year to 11 currently”.

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However, forcing large companies to act is likely to anger some in German business, who have been arguing that the move is an unjustified interference in private enterprise.

The coalition deal will also compel a minimum quota of 30% of women on supervisory boards for companies where the federal government holds a majority shareholding.

The government added that a further quota would also be introduced for “corporations under public law”, such as health insurance companies and pension and accident insurance institutions as well as the Federal Employment Agency.


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Biden team receives Operation Warp Speed briefing after weeks of delays

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden‘s transition team has been briefed on America’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters Tuesday.

Azar said that on Monday evening Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, the official leading the transition planning effort, briefed the Biden team on Operation Warp Speed, which aims to get a coronavirus vaccine to the public in record time.

“We are immediately getting them all of the pre-prepared transition briefing materials,” Azar said.

“We will ensure coordinated briefings with them to ensure they’re getting whatever information that they feel they need,” Azar said, adding that the “transition planning and execution will be professional, cooperative and collaborative.”

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The move ends weeks of delays in the formal handover of power from President Donald Trump to the Biden administration in the wake of the U.S. presidential election. Trump has not conceded the election to Biden.

The U.S. is grappling with a dramatic resurgence of coronavirus cases as major holidays approach. Thus far, the nation has recorded at least 257,991 Covid-19 related deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The Trump administration has been criticized as not doing enough to control the spread of the deadly disease.

Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech applied for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their Covid-19 vaccine. The FDA process is expected to take a few weeks, and an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been scheduled for early December.

Pfizer announced on July 22 that the U.S. agreed to buy 100 million doses of its vaccine for up to $1.95 billion. The agreement, which is part of Operation Warp Speed, allows the U.S. to acquire an additional 500 million vaccine doses.


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Here are the best deals (and what not to buy)

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Customers will see only benefits

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David McInerney, CEO, FreshDirect

Source: CNBC

FreshDirect customers have nothing to fear after the company was bought by the Dutch owner of Stop & Shop and Food Lion, the grocery delivery service’s CEO said Tuesday.

Ahold Delhaize and Centerbridge Partners, a private equity firm, announced Wednesday that they would be buying FreshDirect. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Ahold Delhaize will acquire a majority stake and Centerbridge Partners will have a minority investment of 20%.

“Hopefully the only differences that customers see are the benefits,” FreshDirect CEO David McInerney said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

The Dutch company already has a foothold in U.S. grocery e-commerce through Peapod, which was the first company in the country dedicated to online grocery delivery. But FreshDirect’s specialty is fresh food, which represents about 60% of its total sales, and it has a higher market share than Peapod in the New York tri-state area.

McInerney said that he appreciated how Ahold Delhaize plans to preserve the e-commerce company’s brand. FreshDirect will keep its name and will still independently operate its New York City facility.

“I think combining the knowledge of both companies, we can make it even more competitive and compelling,” Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller said.

Stockpiling during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic made online grocery sales soar, and the trend seems to be sticking. Muller said that the pandemic accelerated Ahold Delhaize’s e-commerce business by several years.

“Being that we’re on top of our game right now … strong double digit-growth, we were naturally attractive, given where the world is in terms of adoption of online food,” McInerney told CNBC’s Becky Quick.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

Correction: David McInerney is CEO of FreshDirect. An earlier version misspelled his name.


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