Women still rare in German boardrooms

Women are dramatically under-represented in the boardrooms of major corporations in Germany and need state-imposed quotas to achieve parity, a study published Wednesday said.

Women still rare in German boardrooms
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel may run the country but women only make up 2.5 percent of the members of executive boards at the 200 biggest German companies, holding 21 seats out of 833, according to the study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) in Berlin.

Among the 30 firms listed on the DAX blue-chip index, electronics giant Siemens is the only group to have a woman on its board, it said.

The situation is slightly better on German corporate supervisory boards, with 10 percent of seats held by women. But most represent employees rather than management.

“There will be no change in this trend without binding rules,” the study concluded, citing the example of Norway, which mandates that companies must reserve 40 percent of seats on executive boards for women.

In France, parliament last month adopted a similar draft bill requiring the 650 listed companies to offer 40 percent of seats on their executive boards to women within six year of the law’s passage.

Merkel was elected Germany’s first female chancellor in 2005. Forbes magazine has named her the world’s most powerful woman four years running.

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German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.


With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.