Proportion of Women on DAX Supervisory Boards Reaches the 40% Mark 

DEINext Generation BoardsIndustry TrendsDiversity & CultureBoard and CEO Advisory
min Report
July 03, 2024
3 min
DEINext Generation BoardsIndustry TrendsDiversity & CultureBoard and CEO Advisory
Executive summary
Despite the increased number of women on supervisory boards, women remain underrepresented in board and committee roles.


For the past 14 years, Russell Reynolds Associates has been conducting an annual analysis of the development of DAX supervisory boards. This year’s highlights include:

  • For the second time in a row, more women than men were newly elected to DAX supervisory boards.
  • The proportion of women among DAX shareholder representatives has reached a historic high of 40%.
  • Women now hold the majority on three supervisory boards.
  • Conversely, the proportion of women appointed to chair roles continues to be low.

For the first time in history, the total proportion of women shareholder representatives in the supervisory boards of the 40 largest German listed companies reached the 40% mark, surpassing the employee representatives at 39.3%.


Development of the proportion of women among shareholder representatives

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Data sources: Germany, Switzerland: own analysis; Other Countries: European Institute for Gender Equality ( | The DAX 30 was expanded into DAX 40 in 2021


For the second year in a row, more women than men were elected as shareholder representatives to DAX supervisory boards, with women accounting for 54% of all newly awarded mandates. Specifically, 22 women were newly elected, 29 re-elected, and 14 resigned – all historic highs.

When looking at shareholder and employee representatives combined, women are now in the majority on three DAX supervisory boards (Vonovia, Beiersdorf, and Zalando). Gender parity has also been reached in two other companies (Bayer and Covestro), with women accounting for 50%.

In 25 out of 40 DAX companies, the proportion of women is now at or above 40%. SAP and Adidas have fallen below the legally required 30%, but remain within accepted rounding tolerance. Porsche SE remains clearly below 30% (although it should be noted that, unlike almost all other DAX 40 companies, Porsche SE, is not legally required to take action, as it is not co-determined).

Despite the DAX 40 approaching the 40% threshold, compared with other major European stock indices, it sits in the middle of the table. This is because women’s representation has also increased on other corresponding supervisory boards. France tops the list with women holding 46% of their board seats, followed by Norway, Italy, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands. Germany is in seventh place, ahead of Spain, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland.


Average proportion of women on supervisory boards of major European equity Indices

Development of the proportion of women among shareholder representatives

Source: Russell Reynolds Associates Analysis 2024. Based on company communication and publicly available information | The DAX 30 was expanded into DAX 40 in 2021



By reaching the 40% mark, a milestone has been achieved by shareholder representations. As recently as 2010, supervisory boards were almost exclusively male. Now, parity is within reach for more and more companies. This is already having a signal impact on top management positions in the German economy.

Supervisory boards are being called upon to ensure that this development is sustained among management boards and senior management levels, and that the proportion of women there follows suit

Despite the increased number of women on supervisory boards, women remain significantly underrepresented in chair roles of boards and committees. The proportions of women in such “positions of power” lag 10 or more years behind the overall development.”

Jens-Thomas Pietralla,
Head of the European Board & CEO Advisory Partners at Russell Reynolds Associates


For example, only 2 out of 40 supervisory board chairs (5%) are held by women (Henkel, and Vonovia). Only 20% of the committees have a woman as chairperson and little more than a quarter of the deputy chairpersons of the supervisory boards are women.  


There is still some catching up to do in the distribution of power within the supervisory boards. Changing this is the next big leadership challenge. Only when power is equally distributed can we speak of truly equal supervisory bodies and equal opportunities"

Philip Bacher,
Member of the German Board & CEO Practice at Russell Reynolds Associates.



Jens-Thomas Pietralla

Jens-Thomas Pietralla leads the firm's Board & CEO Advisory Partners in Europe and serves as Global Head of the Industrial & Natural Resources Sector. In this capacity, he leads the firm's business with clients in aerospace & defense, automotive, capital and electrical goods, chemicals, energy, and industrial services. Jens-Thomas helps companies build superior boards and advises his clients on leadership matters, succession planning, and strategy. Recent work includes searches for a number of CEO, CFO, and other CxO positions, as well as assignments for chairmen and non-executive directors at listed and private equity-owned companies around the globe.


Philip Bacher


Philip Bacher works with public and private clients in building effective boards and management teams, advising on governance effectiveness and leadership matters, succession planning, and strategic transformation. He works across multiple industries with a focus on industrial and technology companies and financial services. Functionally, he focuses on business strategy and development as well as governance, legal, risk, compliance, and other corporate function challenges. He is based in Munich.




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