More female top managers: Record number of women on executive boards

Status: 07.01.2022 9:03 a.m.

According to a study, there are more women on the executive boards of listed German companies than ever before. In about half of the companies, however, there is still no manager on the line.

In the 160 companies in the DAX family, the number of female board members has increased by 20 to 94 top managers within one year. This is the result of a current evaluation by the auditing and consulting company EY. This is the highest value and the strongest increase since the evaluation began in 2013. The proportion of female executives on the Executive Board rose accordingly by 2.4 percentage points to a new high of 13.4 percent.

However, as of January 1, 2022, a good half of the companies examined had no women on the management board, according to EY. In an international comparison, Germany lags further behind. In addition, only nine companies have a manager at the top of the board.

“Tremendous signal effect”

“The German executive bodies are becoming more female, but the change is taking place very slowly. Currently, on average, one woman faces six men,” explained EY expert Markus Heinen. “If things were left to run their course, it would probably be decades before the posts on the board were half filled with men and women.”

However, Heinen assumes that the female quota for board members, which has been in effect since August 2021, will significantly increase the proportion of female executives in a short period of time: “If we see more and more women at the top of the company in the coming years, it will have an enormous signal effect.”

According to the regulation regarding the quota of women, it must be ensured that at least one woman sits on the board of companies with more than 2000 employees and more than three board members. Other listed or co-determined companies that do not fall under the minimum requirement must justify if they plan their board of directors without women and thus state a “target value zero” in their reports. If this does not happen, there is a risk of fines.

Germany is far behind internationally

Nevertheless, according to a study by the non-profit Allbright Foundation published in October, Germany is still lagging behind in an international comparison. In the 30 stock market heavyweights in the USA, the proportion of women as of September 1, 2021 was 31.1 percent, followed by Great Britain with 27.4 and Sweden with 27.1 percent. In Germany, the share of the DAX, which at that time only comprised 30 companies, was only 18 percent.

According to EY, the share of female executives is highest in the top German stock exchange league at 18.1 percent. In around 78 percent of the 40 DAX corporations, at least one woman has a say on the board of directors. Only 22 percent of the stock market heavyweights do not have a female board member.

Few women in the media industry

The presence of top female managers in companies that are listed in the MDAX or SDAX is significantly lower. In the index of medium-sized stocks MDAX, the proportion of women on the executive board is 11.1 percent, in the SDAX it is 10.8 percent. In the majority of the companies in the two indices (a good 60 percent each), only men sit on the management board.

Viewed by sector, the proportion of women on executive boards in the telecommunications industry is the highest at 19.2 percent. In the automotive sector, which is generally considered to be dominated by men, 18.8 percent of board members are women. In contrast, the proportion of female top managers is particularly low in IT companies with 11.4 percent, industrial groups with 10.7 percent and media companies with 7.0 percent.

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