Number of women at the top of companies rises, more than half comply with quota

In listed companies in the Netherlands, the number of women in the top has risen. On the boards of directors, the day-to-day management of companies, the percentage of women rose from 8.5 percent in 2019 to 12.5 percent in 2020. This is shown by the annual Female Board Index of Mijntje Lรผckerath, professor of Corporate Governance at the TIAS School for Business and Society. It rose from 26.8 to 29.5 percent in the supervisory boards, which supervise management.

It is the second year in a row that both the number of female directors and supervisory directors have risen. In the past, there were also years of stagnation or decline. Lรผckerath has been keeping track of these figures for thirteen years. “I see this as a trend reversal. Last year, Eumedion, the representative of institutional investors, made the appointment of women a spearhead. I think it has had a lot of effect, companies don’t want any fuss about their appointments. The social pressure has been there for a long time. Gradually it becomes embarrassing when the top of a company is made up entirely of men.”


A law is being drafted that makes it compulsory for at least 33 percent of supervisory boards in listed companies to be women. Of the 94 companies, 51 now meet that quota. Last year there were 30. There will be no quota for boards of directors. The government aims for the Act to enter into force in January 2021.

Lรผckerath itself is not in favour of a quota imposed by the government. “It’s a horse’s medicine. As a matter of principle, I don’t think the government should deal with appointments in the private sector. There are other ways, for example if the government only awards contracts to companies with enough women at the top. And consumers and employees can also put pressure on a company.”

Most women at ASR and Nedap

There are now fifteen companies where at least 33 percent of both the board of directors and the supervisory board are women. Insurance company ASR and technology company Nedap are leading the way, with half the top half being women. This is followed by PostNL and publisher Wolters Kluwer with 44 percent women.

The last place is for Envipco, which makes machines for collecting deposit bottles. Of the eight directors and supervisory directors, none are women. The company had three new appointments at the top this year, all male.