Women on DAX boards: not yet balanced

Status: 19/10/2022 at 10:27 a.m

In the DAX companies, the proportion of women in the executive boards is only 14 percent. Only three listed companies have a balanced ratio between women and men.

For the first time, three DAX companies have a balanced ratio between women and men in the executive board. According to a report by the German-Swedish AllBright Foundation, which campaigns for more women and diversity in corporate management, this is the case for the car parts supplier Continental, the dialysis specialist Fresenius Medical Care and the medical technology manufacturer Siemens Healthineers.

According to the study, a balanced gender ratio is achieved when the share of the underrepresented group is at least 40 percent. Three other companies in the leading German index – Beiersdorf, Deutsche Telekom and Mercedes Benz – are also not far behind.

The proportion of women in companies continues to grow only slightly

Overall, however, the proportion of women on the top floors of the largest German companies rose only slightly by 0.8 percentage points to 14.2 percent within a year. As of September, the management boards of the 160 DAX, MDAX and SDAX companies were occupied by 599 men and 99 women. Almost 85 percent of board members are still men.

According to the report’s authors, the previous year’s good progress in increasing the proportion of women has weakened this year. The small increase in the proportion of women is solely due to the large DAX companies. More than half of all female board members are part of a DAX group.

Rate lower in smaller companies

“More than ever, it’s about repositioning ourselves better and securing the best minds for this – including and especially the female ones,” emphasized the foundation’s managing directors Wiebke Ankersen and Christian Berg. The DAX companies are currently doing this best. On the other hand, it will be more difficult for medium-sized and small companies that do not yet have a woman on the board. “Because the trend of female top managers preferring to choose companies where there are already women on the board was confirmed again this year.”

The proportion of women on the boards of directors in medium-sized companies in the MDAX stagnated at 11.3 percent and at 10.4 percent in smaller companies in the SDAX. According to the survey, these companies often failed to replace departing senior executives with female colleagues last year. In 74 MDAX and SDAX companies, there is currently not a single woman on the board. According to the study, it would take another 26 years for women to make up 50 percent of stock exchange boards, given the average rate of change over the past five years.

The survey also identifies companies that do not have a woman on either the executive board or the board. These include the financial broker Hypoport, the car rental company Sixt, the battery manufacturer Varta and the Adler Group.

More bosses are called Christian than female CEOs

At the top of the board, women remain an exception. The number of female chairmen increased from eight to nine the previous year. After September 1, Carla Kriwet was promoted to CEO of dialysis specialist Fresenius Medical Care. There are currently more CEOs named Christian (ten) than female CEOs (nine).

In the medium term, however, the foundation sees opportunities for more female managers at the top. Every fourth of the new women on the board was most recently recruited to the finance department. In the past, this position was often a stepping stone to the chairmanship of the board.

Legal template

Listed companies with equal participation with more than 2,000 employees and more than three board members must now ensure that there is at least one woman on the top floor when the board is appointed. The minimum bid for participation applies to orders from August 1, 2022.

According to the Federal Minister for Women, Lisa Paus, the law works. Even before it came into effect, the companies had appointed several board members. “And yet we cannot rest on our laurels,” warned the Green politician in a closing statement.

Germany in international comparison

According to the study, even some of the DAX companies lag behind internationally. In DAX, the proportion of women is 20.2 percent. By contrast, the proportion of women in the upper echelons of the 40 largest listed companies in the United States is around 31 percent, followed by the United Kingdom (27.9 percent) and Sweden (26.5 percent).

In the US, Tesla is the only company among the 40 largest companies without a woman. In the German DAX, on the other hand, there are seven companies: including Linde, Munich Re and Porsche Automobil Holding.

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