The pledges come months after Chancellor Angela Merkel's government suggested that Germany lags far behind other industrialized nations in promoting women to its highest business positions, which is not the case in the German government.
Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the companies' efforts, but criticized them for falling short of what is needed to convince highly qualified women that they can have a career in Germany as rewarding as they could find abroad.
COMMENT: Germany has a female chancellor and five other women in Merkel's 15-member cabinet, but it ranks alongside India in the number of women in boardrooms, with only 2.2%, one of the lowest figures among both developed and developing nations. Sweden leads with women holding 17% of its board seats, while the figure is 14% in the US, according to the German Economic Institute. Norway passed a law in 2003 requiring companies to increase the number of women in all leadership positions, top-level management and board seats. Last year women held a respectable 39% of all business leadership positions there.