Every seventh member of the board of directors in the top 200 companies are women

Berlin The members of the company’s board of directors in Germany have become more women – even if the legal minimum for women comes into force only in August of this year. In the fourth quarter of last year, there were 139 female executives in the 200 highest-selling companies – 38 more than last year, according to the current barometer of female managers from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

Wrohlich and colleagues from Virginia Sondergeld from DIW and Anja Kirsch from FU Berlin are already seeing “predictive effects” of mandatory minimum participation. From August, listed companies that have a supervisory board with equal co-decision and at least four board positions must have at least one woman on the board.

66 companies are currently affected by this regulation. Twelve of them, who still had an all-male management team in the fall of 2020, have a woman on the board a year later. 19 companies have not yet covered the minimum participation that will be valid from August. The other companies already had at least one female board member before the fall of 2020.

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However, the new gender quota seems to be “an effective tool for increasing the percentage of women in top-level institutions,” Sodergeld stressed. Because while regulatory companies increased the percentage of women on their executive boards by about five percentage points to 19 percent in one year, the percentage in other companies increased by just three percentage points to about 14 percent. In all 200 top companies, the percentage of women on the executive board is 14.7 percent, in the 40 Dax companies it is 17.5 percent.

The quota for women brings success

The gender quota for supervisory boards also worked. As of 2016, at least 30 percent of the members of the supervisory bodies of listed and co-decided companies must be women. In companies where the regulation applies, the percentage of women on supervisory boards is now 35 percent. In companies without a quota, the rate is only 27 percent.

Late last year, the top 200 best-selling companies broke the 30% threshold for female supervisors for the first time. Recently, however, the pace of appointing women to oversight bodies has slowed somewhat. Rarely do they happen at the top of the supervisory board: while only eight of the top 200 companies were headed by a woman at the end of 2020, a year later there were ten.

Compared to other European countries, researchers are still looking to close the gap in Germany. The scope of German quota regulations is “very narrow” in a European comparison, said DIW researcher Wrohlich. In nine of the 27 EU countries there are legal regulations for minimum participation of women in managerial positions.

In many of these countries, however, quotas apply to all listed companies or to a specific company size, and the group of companies affected in this country is relatively small due to the additional criterion of equal co-determination.

Wrohlich and her colleagues therefore argue that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, together with the French Presidency of the Council, now want to relaunch an initiative for a European quota for women, which has been waiting for almost ten years. years. If, for example, the group of companies subject to a quota system increases in Germany, this would be welcome.

The quota alone is not enough

In addition to quota regulations, however, “further accompanying measures, especially in family policy” are needed to bring more women to managerial positions, Wrohlich said. This includes, for example, extending paternity leave for parental benefit or reforming a spouse’s divorce.

So far, researchers have not noticed that companies are reducing their governance in view of the minimum composition of the board that will be in force from August to overturn the legislation. Instead, many companies would have created additional board positions, for example for digital.

Researchers also see no evidence that there are insufficiently trained women for a small number of board members. The Institute for Labor Market and Professional Research (IAB) has just shown that there is a high percentage of women in the second administrative level – and therefore also a reservoir from which women candidates for top positions can be drawn.

More: Men’s management: In 372 savings banks, there are only 16 women bosses

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