E.t is certainly not a trend reversal, but it is a small setback for the rise of women to the top management bodies of the German economy: After their share in the boardrooms of the 30 DAX companies had increased slowly but continuously in recent years, it is in the In the wake of the corona pandemic, this year fell for the first time in a long time – back to the status of 2017.
This is the result of a count by the All-Bright Foundation, which advocates more women in management positions. As of September 1st, only 23 women were working in the 30 DAX executive bodies. A year earlier it was 29. The proportion has thus fallen to 12.8 percent, which is almost 2 percentage points less than a year earlier. The number of DAX companies with no women on the board rose from 6 to 11 during this period.
According to the authors of the study, this backward movement is caused by two mechanisms: Several companies have downsized their executive boards in the wake of the pandemic, so positions were not filled again immediately. In addition, with the few new appointments, they also tend to appoint men. In fact, there was an above-average number of women among the board members who gave up their mandate in the past 12 months. The headlines were particularly made by the cases of a few prominent top managers: for example Hauke Stars from Deutsche Börse, Karen Parkin from Adidas, Janina Kugel and Lisa Davis from Siemens and Jennifer Morgan from SAP. The latter two have reduced their board members by three members each, Bayer and Volkswagen by two each.
Wiebke Ankersen, the managing director of the Allbright Foundation, shows herself in an interview with the F.A.Z. disappointed with the development: “We actually thought something was slowly getting going”. The promotion of Jennifer Morgan at SAP to the first Dax co-CEO last fall was a sign of hope; that did not last long. The American resigned from her position after a lost power struggle with co-boss Christian Klein over the future strategy.
Germany is lagging behind other western industrialized countries, says Ankersen. Although the proportion of women on the executive boards of the 30 DAX companies has risen from 1 percent in 2005 to almost 15 percent at times, it has now fallen back to less than 13 percent. The gap to some other large industrialized countries is great and continues to grow because companies in many other countries have consistently increased the proportion of women on executive boards. In each of the 30 largest companies in the country, this was almost 29 percent (plus 0.8 percentage points) in the United States, 24.5 percent (plus 2.2) in Great Britain and more than in France 22 percent (plus 2.4) increased.
“To rely on trusted men in a crisis is a short-sighted reflex that will sooner or later take revenge,” says Ankersen. She also criticizes the lack of ambitions of many German companies. This can be seen in the high number of those who still give themselves a “target value zero”. Of the 160 listed companies in the Dax-30, M-Dax and S-Dax that are legally obliged to do so, 55 were still planning until 2022 without a single woman on the board.
However, there are also glimmers of hope. In the coming spring, the Spaniard Belén Garijo will take over the head of the pharmaceutical company Merck. Of the Dax 30 companies, Deutsche Telekom, SAP and Siemens recently announced new board members. In addition, the proportion of women in the second row has increased, i.e. at companies in the M-Dax and S-Dax. The authors of the study conclude that the low point in the Dax 30 executive boards could therefore “possibly already be passed”.