Women Still the Exception on Executive Boards of Germany's Large Firms - Gradually Increasing Representation on Supervisory Boards

Press Release of January 15, 2014

The trend toward more women on the boards of directors of German companies continued in 2013, albeit on a small scale. The share of women on the supervisory boards of the 200 largest companies increased by more than two percentage points, and thereby at a somewhat higher rate than in recent years, to just over 15 percent. The corresponding share of women on executive boards virtually stagnated at a low level of just over four percent. These findings are revealed in DIW Berlin's latest Female Executive Barometer. In the DAX 30 companies there was even a decrease in the share of women on executive boards. The shares of female executives in MDAX, SDAX, and TecDAX companies also remained low. The development in companies with government- owned shares was limited as well. Moreover, women chairing boards of directors are still very much the exception in all the groups of companies studied. This applies to both supervisory and executive boards. The findings clearly indicate that increasing the share of women on corporate boards is not a self-sustaining process, that progress is slow, and that substantial efforts are still required. In order to achieve equal representation of both genders in these posts in the foreseeable future, more drastic changes are needed. In Germany, public companies could play a pioneering role, which is not the case at present. Companies in Germany and their interest groups can look to the Nordic countries for examples of firms that achieve substantial increases in the number of women on corporate boards without mandatory state regulation. Comparing European countries, however, we see that the share of women on corporate boards increased the fastest in countries with a mandatory women's quota.