Despite quotas, Germany's boardrooms still 'male-dominated'

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Despite quotas, Germany's boardrooms still 'male-dominated'
Where are all the women? File photo:

The boardrooms of Germany's top companies remain male-dominated despite a so-called "women's quota" imposed last year, a new report finds.


Despite political pressure to aim for gender equality, the management boards of Germany's largest companies continue to be male-dominated, according to a report published on Monday.

The percentage of women on company boards is growing, but at a slow pace, the report from consultancy firm EY showed.

At 160 market-listed companies, women make up just 6.7 percent of executive board members, as of January 1st 2017. There are 45 women on the executive boards, compared to 630 men. This is an increase of six women from the year before when the proportion was 5.9 percent, and up from 5.2 percent at the start of 2015.

Still, nearly 76 percent of executive bodies at listed companies are only made up of men.

In 2013, Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU and coalition partner the Social Democrats (SPD) to push for a gender quota system for the country's largest companies from 2016 onwards. Merkel had long opposed the introduction of compulsory quotas before striking the deal.

The act, which has been in place since January 1st last year, obliges the 101 listed companies to ensure 30 percent of supervisory board posts are filled by women. While there is no legal quota for executive boards, the law was intended to point the way for the future.

However, if the current pace continues, EY says that it will take until 2047 for one-third of executive board positions to be filled with women.

"German executive bodies continue to be male monocultures," said Hubert Barth, chairman of the EY management board in Germany.

DAX 30 companies have already met the 30 percent quota for women on supervisory boards, according to prior research by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

According to Ana-Cristina Grohnert, a member of the EY management board, the fulfillment of the quota in supervisory boards is proof that it is not women's abilities which hold them back from attaining top positions, but the companies' lack of willingness to hire them.  

"There are enough qualified women for board posts," said Grohnert.

The companies with the highest share of women in the boardroom are those in the telecommunications and financial sector (14 percent each) and the transport and logistics sector (13 percent), the analysis showed.
At the other end of the scale, women made up just one percent of board members in technology companies.


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