Former minister Steven Vanackere (pictured) has been confirmed as the new director of the board of the National Bank (NBB) by the federal council of ministers. Vanackere’s nomination to the post – where he takes over from the sole woman on the board, Marcia De Wachter – aroused criticism not only over the way the candidate was selected, but also over the overwhelmingly male character of the NBB’s management.
Vanackere’s credentials were not in doubt: a graduate in both law and economics from the university of Leuven, and in July 2015, while sitting in the Senate, he obtained a master’s degree with honours in philosophy. He has been a member of parliament as well as senator, like his father before him; director-general of the Port of Brussels; minister for health and welfare, government enterprises, foreign affairs and finance.
Vanackere’s nomination was criticised for the lack of consultation involved, but mainly for the gender aspect: De Wachter was retiring after 30 years at the NBB, and now sits as a communal representative in Overijse. She was the only woman on the seven-member board of the NBB, and had criticism of her own.
“I find this a major problem. There are 30 women at the National Bank who all have senior management experience in the financial world, and not one of them was even approached,” she said at the time.
The Bank has now promised to remedy that situation by including more women executives, although the details have not been revealed. However it had little choice: under reforms announced in the parliament last week by current finance minister Johan Van Overtveldt, the number of NBB responsibilities is to be reduced from 26 to 14, and the function of the board of directors to be made more like the board of a company – which means that like all Stock Market-listed companies, at least one-third of the board members have to be women.