German Parliament approves quota requiring 30 percent female directors at biggest companies

Germany's Parliament has approved a quota system that will require leading companies in Europe's biggest economy to have at least 30 percent women on their supervisory boards starting next year.

Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition backed the legislation Friday, while opposition lawmakers who argued that it didn't go far enough abstained.

The quota will apply to more than 100 listed companies from 2016. Another 3,500 firms will be required to set targets to raise the number of women in leadership positions.

A recent study by the German Institute for Economic Research found that last year, women accounted for 18.6 percent of the supervisory board members — the German equivalent of directors — at the country's biggest 100 companies.

Norway, Spain and France among others already have quota requirements.