BERLIN – Establishing a government ministry to fight discrimination was a good first step. Naming a woman as cabinet minister to run it also surely helped.
But now, it turns out, the Berlin Administrative Court has ruled that the German Federal Ministry for Families, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) was discriminating against women when it came to filling (other) leading jobs at the ministry.
The ministry’s own equal opportunities officer, Kristin Rose-Möhring, sued the ministry and won. In 2011 and 2012, three leading positions in the ministry were given to men. "The fact that the equal opportunities officer was not involved in the decision-making process in the case of three jobs filled in 2011 and 2012 at the BMFSFJ was against the law," says the court decision.
It’s a devastating verdict for Family Minister Manuela Schwesig, even though the three cases date back to her predecessor Kristina Schröder. However, to Rose-Möhring’s mind the new minister has not changed the way candidates are chosen.
Schwesig has been Minister since 2008 — Photo: Jean11
Rose-Möhring says that she had no say in the selection of the three men and that the final decisions had been taken to hire them by the time she found out.
"The plaintiff was either not told or only told shortly before the new candidate began work," the court decision continues. "Her attempts to raise objection and find out-of-court solutions were unsuccessful."
In all three cases, the court ruled, the equal opportunities officer’s right to be involved in the selection process had been disregarded. The officer had to be a part of decisions involving personnel and could to a significant degree determine the course of action.
At the ministry, Secretary of State Ralf Kleindiek told Die Welt: "We welcome the verdict. It strengthens the rights of the equal opportunities officer and helps clarify the situation."
The practice has already borne fruit: of three secretaries of state two are women. In May decisions will be taken about section heads — out of five, three will be women. Over 50% of division heads are women.
The total number of women in leading jobs at the BMFSFJ is 51.6% — higher than in any other federal ministry.