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Women Still Greatly Underrepresented on the Top Boards of Large Companies

DIW Weekly Report 7 / 2010, S. 45-53

Elke Holst, Anita Wiemer

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Executive and supervisory boards of large companies in Germany are still dominated by men - to an extraordinary degree. Only 2.5% of all executive board members in the200 largest companies (not including the financial sector) are women, and only 10% of all seats on supervisory boards are occupied by women. The situation in the financial sector is similar: in the 100 largest banks, 2.6% of all executive board members are women, and in the 62 largest insurance companies, 2.8% of executive board members are women. The percentage of women on financial sector supervisory boards is higher than their percentage in the top 200 companies: 16.8% in banks and savings banks, and 12.4% in insurance companies. In total, about three-quarters of women with a seat on a supervisory board are appointed by employee representation bodies and therefore have their seat as a result of employee codetermination practices. Aside from a few positive examples, the situation on both types of management boards has hardly changed at all in the last few years. It remains to be seen whether the plan to gradually increase the number of women in management positions, as agreed upon in the German government's 2009 Coalition Agreement, will have more success than the voluntary commitments made by Germany's top business associations in their 2001agreement with the German government. The implementation of the latter initiative private-sector companies can be considered a failure given the virtually unchanged gender composition of top management in large private-sector companies.

JEL-Classification: G38;J16;M14
Keywords: Board diversity, Women CEOs, Gender diversity, Management
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