Germany's boardrooms have long been a cherished male preserve. But that's about to change at one of the country's biggest companies, Deutsche Telekom, which has just unveiled a radical new plan to fast-track more women into management roles. By 2015, the company has mandated that 30% of its middle and upper management positions be filled by women.
Anne Wenders, a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson, says this is not a "tokenistic gesture aimed at political correctness," but a new way of thinking that could become a model for other German companies. "This is a revolution and it will change the way our company works," she says.
Whatever the company's motivations, the quota is still an audacious move for Europe's biggest telecom group — part of recent efforts to shake off its old-fashioned image and revamp its operations for the 21st century. Women currently only occupy 12% of the management positions at Deutsche Telekom offices in Germany — and none of the positions on the eight-member executive committee. In order to recruit more women managers, the company says it plans to introduce more flexible working hours and part-time positions, as well as expand its parental leave schemes and child-care services. It has also implemented a new "stay in contact" program, which helps women managers keep in touch with the office while on maternity leave.