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Switzerland: Gender Quotas for Boards of Large Companies to Take Effect January 1, 2021

(Sept. 29, 2020) In its session of September 11, 2020, the Swiss Federal Council, the country’s government, decided that a provision requiring large companies to introduce a gender quota of 30% for their boards of directors and of 20% for their executive boards will enter into force on January 1, 2021. This amendment to the Code of Obligations, which is part of a larger overhaul of Swiss company law, had been adopted by the Swiss parliament on June 19, 2020.

Companies that in two consecutive years have a balance sheet of more than 20 million Swiss francs (about US$22 million) or whose sales revenue exceeds 40 million Swiss francs, or that have an annual average of more than 250 full-time positions are required to include information on the gender quota in their annual remuneration report. If the quota is not met, the companies are required to comply or to explain why, and to describe the measures that have been and will be taken to increase the numbers for the underrepresented gender. (Amendment to Code of Obligations art. 734f; Botschaft zur Änderung des Obligationenrechts (Aktienrecht) at 455.) The obligation to report will first apply in 2026 for boards of directors and in 2031 for executive boards. (Amendment at 5630, art. 4.)

In 2020, women constituted 23% of the boards of directors of the 100 largest Swiss companies and 10% of the executive boards.

Updated September 30, 2020