More women managers on the board – percentage of women at the highest level

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After a strong increase, there are more women than ever before in the top floors of listed German companies. According to an evaluation by the auditing and consulting firm EY, the number of female board members in the 160 companies in the Dax family rose by 20 to 94 top managers. It was the highest value and the strongest increase since the evaluation began in 2013. In a good half of the companies examined, however, there were no women on the management board as of January 1, 2022. In an international comparison, Germany also lags further behind.

“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. In addition, only nine companies have a manager at the top of the board. However, Heinen assumes that the female quota for board members, which has been in force since August 2021, will significantly increase the proportion of female executives in a short period of time.

In the case of listed companies with equal co-determination with more than 2000 employees and more than three board members, care must be taken to ensure that at least one woman sits on the board. 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 – that is, if they state a “target figure zero” in their reports. If this does not happen, there is a risk of fines.

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“If we see more and more women at the top of the company in the coming years, it will have an enormous signal effect,” said Heinen confidently.

According to EY, the proportion of female executives on the executive board increased by 2.4 percentage points year-on-year to a high of 13.4 percent.

In an international comparison, Germany lags further behind according to a study by the non-profit Allbright Foundation published in October. 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 (27.4 percent) and Sweden (27.1 percent). In Germany, the share of the Dax, which at that time only comprised 30 companies, was around 18 percent. As with digitization, a new departure is needed that will advance the German economy, “and this requires a significantly higher proportion of women on the executive boards,” warned the managing directors of the Allbright Foundation, Wiebke Ankersen and Christian Berg.

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 now 40 DAX companies, at least one woman on the top floor has a say. Only 22 percent of the stock market heavyweights do not have a female board member.

The presence of female top managers in companies that are listed in the MDax or SDax is significantly lower. In the index of medium-sized values ​​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.

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When viewed by industry, the proportion of women in the top floor of 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 at IT companies (11.4 percent), industrial groups (10.7 percent) and media companies (7.0 percent).

If women make it to the top management level, according to an earlier EY study, however, they do on average better chances in salary poker. The total remuneration of female managers on the board of directors of companies in the Dax family rose by an average of 8.2 percent to 2.31 million euros in 2020 compared to the previous year. Male members of the committee had to be satisfied with an average increase of 1.6 percent to 1.76 million euros.


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