Europe's Central Bank Goes for Gender Quotas

The ECB plans to double the number of women in top management roles by 2019

While a majority of private economists surveyed by Bloomberg say Janet Yellen is the most qualified and most likely candidate to run the Fed, banking remains a man’s world. This is why the European Central Bank today announced plans to introduce gender quotas for top levels of management. Its nonbinding goal is for women to occupy 28 percent of senior management positions at the bank and 35 percent of middle management positions by 2019, up from 14 percent and 17 percent.

Currently the ECB’s overall gender split is actually quite even—just not at the top, writes Spiegel International. Of the ECB’s 23 governing council members, none is a women. Last year the bank’s executive board drew fire for appointing a sixth male member without considering any female candidates.

Stephan Keuning, the bank’s director general of HR, budget, and organization, says women are partly to blame for the discrepancy. “Experience shows that female candidates are more reserved and modest in job interviews and presentations,” he told the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. To counter this trend, he says, the ECB has implemented a mentoring program to help female candidates as they work their way up the ladder.

The ECB’s announcement comes after Germany’s 30 largest listed companies voluntarily pledged two years ago to increase female representation. It also comes as European governments debate whether to follow Norway’s lead and introduce gender quotas at the corporate level, something Christine Lagarde, the first female director of the International Monetary Fund, has said is a necessary, though temporary, tool to help women reach top jobs, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “At the end of the day, people will have to be convinced that [women] bring something to the table,” said Lagarde.

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