German upper house seeks women quota in boardrooms

A European flag waves in front of the Reichstag building with the inscription 'Dem deutschen Volke' ('To The German People') in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Official data show that Germany posted a budget surplus for the first half of this year thanks to its strong labor market, even as other eurozone countries struggle with deficits.
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

(AP) BERLIN - The German Parliament's upper house is calling for a mandatory quota for women on companies' supervisory boards.

The house, which represents Germany's 16 states, voted Friday for a motion that would require large companies to have at least 20 percent of women on their supervisory boards - the equivalent of a U.S. board of directors - starting in 2018, and 40 percent five years later, German news agency dapd reported.

The motion now goes to Parliament's lower house, which Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition controls. The coalition is divided on the issue and it's unclear whether a quota could secure a majority there.

The quota was proposed in the upper house by center-left state governments. Two states led by Merkel's conservative party joined ranks with them on Friday.