DAX Supervisory Boards Include More Women Than Ever

DEINext Generation BoardsIndustry TrendsDiversityEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceLeadershipBoard and CEO AdvisoryBoard Effectiveness
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October 25, 2022
7 min read
DEINext Generation BoardsIndustry TrendsDiversityEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceLeadershipBoard and CEO AdvisoryBoard Effectiveness
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The share of women among DAX 40 shareholder representatives has reached a new all-time high of 35.1%.
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This is one key insight of the 2022 edition of Russell Reynolds’ annual comprehensive survey of German DAX 40 supervisory boards.

READ THE 2022 DAX BOARD STUDY HERE

Most notably, the share of women among shareholder representatives has reached a new all-time high of 35.1%. This is the largest annual increase since 2018. If female employee representatives are included, this figure increases further to 37.1%.

The DAX 40 has more than made up for the decline in the number of women on supervisory boards following the increase from 30 to 40 companies last year. The international major European stock indices reveal that, in terms of female representation, the DAX 40 has secured its mid-table position, closely behind UK, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Average proportion of women in supervisory boards of major European stock indices: Second half 2021, 2020 and 2019

Women Proportion

Data sources: DE, CH own analysis; other countries: European Institute for Gender Equality (eige.europa.eu)

What’s more, our study shows that women now make up at least 50% at seven (up from three last year) of the 40 DAX companies’ supervisory boards. Another nine company have boards made up of 40% women. Porsche, Siemens Healthineers, and Linde are the only three companies that have not yet reached the required 30% female ratio.

Women are slowly ascending in the “power hierarchy” of supervisory boards. For the first time, women hold 10% of board chairs. It should be noted, however, three of them are representatives of major shareholder and the fourth is also not considered independent due to a tenure of more than 12-years. But, that said, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Gender representation among chairs and in committees

Gender representation

Gender representation

** Data before annual general meetings 2022; without employee representatives

 

Why we’re seeing a shift

There have been several forces driving these changes. The underrepresentation of women in German organizations and the best way to address it have been subject to fierce debate in politics and business for years. German businesses have been under increasing pressure to act, and this alongside recent Government quotas will, at least in part, be responsible for the rise in female representation.

Our study also suggests the planned average term of office of supervisory board members is decreasing. In 2022, new members were elected for an average of 3.2 years (one year less than the long-term average). The share of members elected for five years fell from 90% in 2016 to 20% in 2022. Shorter terms allow supervisory boards to be reconstituted more quickly and operate more nimbly – it also has opened the door to adapt the board’s skill and experience profile to governance requirements and changing market conditions.

Average planned term (years) for first-time shareholder representatives by election year

Supervisory Board members

* High share of replacements for resigned shareholder representatives

 

Share of reelections for five years

Supervisory Board members

 

Women are leading the way on sustainability

Over the last couple of years, sustainability has steadily been moving its way to the top of business agendas. The number of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) committees on DAX 40 supervisory boards has more than tripled since 2021, and currently one third of all boards have an ESG committee.

Interestingly, our study found that it is largely women driving the board-level conversation on sustainability. With three more newly elected women this year, 15 of the 40 DAX companies include a supervisory board member with proven sustainability expertise, 87% of whom are female.

Board members with dedicated expertise in sustainability 

Sustainability Board Members

 

International representation is on the up

Through changes in index composition and a low share of German nationals among newly elected supervisory board members, the share of foreign nationals continues to increase and reaches a record high of more than 35%. It’s also evident that the share of foreigners is significantly higher among women than among men. While the diverse perspectives and experiences that foreign electees bring are immensely valuable, it also suggests that businesses could be doing more to uncover suitable German female management talent for supervisory positions.

Number and proportion of foreign board members by region

Foreign board members

 

Newly elected 2022

                                                                                         Men                                                                                                                    Women

Foreign board members

 

 

In summary

The social debate on more diversity and equal rights in companies has paid off: DAX supervisory boards have more gender diversity than ever before, and the trend toward greater diversity continues. Supervisory boards are becoming role models for top management. DAX company supervisory and management standards and values are experiencing their most profound transformation to date. Despite all the implementation challenges they are facing, supervisory bodies and boards will ultimately emerge stronger.

 

 

 

 

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The DAX Board Study 2022