Switzerland’s Top Companies Close the Gap in Gender Equality in 2022

DEINext Generation BoardsIndustry TrendsDiversity & CultureBoard and CEO Advisory
min Report
March 14, 2023
3 min
DEINext Generation BoardsIndustry TrendsDiversity & CultureBoard and CEO Advisory
Executive Summary
Our 2023 Executive Committee Study shows Swiss listed companies are accelerating gender equality at the top.


Women leaders in Switzerland took great strides towards a more equal  representation in 2022. Across the Swiss Market Index (SMI), the proportion of female top executives increased from 19% to 24%—the largest increase in Europe—according to our 2023 Executive Committee Study.


This latest leap means that the proportion of women in senior roles has almost doubled in just two years. It also sees Switzerland overtake Germany and Denmark in terms of executive gender diversity, with only Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and France having stronger representation of women among top index companies in Europe.

This impressive progress among Switzerland’s 20 biggest publicly listed companies largely comes from the financial sector. UBS is edging close to equal representation, with 42% of its top executives being women. Partners Group has reached 38%, while Credit Suisse has 36% women representation.

Our study also found that the 28 companies in the SMI Mid (SMIM), the second-tier Swiss stock index, increased the share of women in executive roles. Despite a more moderate increase from a lower base than the SMI, the SMIM did manage to leapfrog Italy’s main index in the process.

Among these companies, software developer Temenos is leading the way, with 40% of executive roles held by women. Recruitment firm Adecco and packaging manufacturer SIG Combibloc aren’t too far behind with their executive teams being 33% women.


More than half of companies are hitting 2031 gender representation targets

Our analysis shows that 25 of the 48 companies listed on the SMI and SMIM are already meeting gender diversity targets set for 2031. The target, enshrined in Swiss law, says 20% of executive management at companies listed on the stock exchange will need to be women.

While this is promising early progress, there is significant variation among the listed companies. Nine have women in at least 30% of top executive roles, while 10 have no women in their management.

Overall, the 48  listed companies need to recruit 29 more women into executive roles to reach the 2031 target. That’s a significant 41% increase on the 71 women currently in their top management.

It will also be important to look at which C-suite roles women are holding to ensure representation will carry through to CEO and board roles in the future. Currently, the only woman CEO of a listed Swiss business is Magdalena Martullo-Blocher of Ems-Chemie, and only seven women hold CFO positions. Most of the women executives in Switzerland’s listed companies occupy central positions, mainly in human resources or law, which  rarely feed into the very top roles.


There’s a gender gap in executive tenure

While we’re seeing more women enter Swiss C-suites, those that have already made it into the top team often aren’t lasting as long as their male counterparts.

For the 17% percent of executive men who left their roles in 2022, the average tenure was 6.3 years. Meanwhile, the 15% of executive women who moved on did so after just 2.4 years on average. A continuation of this trend would be concerning—only through extensive C-suite experience will we see more women in CEO and board roles.

We uncovered one possible reason for this disparity in our 2022 Global Leadership Monitor. Women in the C-suite were more than twice as likely as C-suite men to say they left a role because they felt undervalued.


Switzerland’s listed companies have more to do for gender representation

Rapid progress towards gender equality in the executive teams of some of Switzerland’s largest companies is exciting to see. But it also highlights shortcomings in those that are lagging.

The 2031 target of having women hold 20% of executive roles is modest by international standards and shouldn’t be the sole driver of recruiting more women executives. Gender diversity drives business results—the greater representation of women in the SMI compared to the SMIM is no coincidence, and it’s no surprise that some of Switzerland’s most successful global brands are also leading the way on diversity.





Switzerland leads Europe’s gender equality progress in 2022