Press Release

Half of all new DAX 30 Supervisory Board members are women – and just under one in three comes from outside Germany


June 13, 2016

​Half of all new DAX 30 Supervisory Board members are women – and just under one in three comes from outside Germany

Russell Reynolds Associates 6th annual “DAX 30 Supervisory Board Study” also finds two-thirds of supervisory boards lack relevant digital expertise

  • On target: 21 of the 30 shareholder representatives already contribute to meeting the female quota target of 30% (enacted in German law for 2020)
  • Top of the class: Siemens, Deutsche Bank, Adidas and Daimler have the strongest supervisory boards according to the ranking of the consultancy
  • Short on internationalism: The proportion of supervisory board members from outside Germany falls to 27%. Just 6% come from outside Europe
  • Strong digital deficit: Only one in three boards (37%) has proven digital expertise


Munich, 13 June 2016 – With a 5 percentage point jump, from 23.7% to 28.7%, supervisory boards of DAX 30 companies are showing the strongest rise in owner-side female representation in their history.

In the past year, 39 shareholder representatives were replaced, newly-elected or additionally elected. With women taking up 18 of those posts, it means they represent now close to one in every two supervisory board appointments (46%; 2015: 39%).

Following this year’s AGMs, 21 out of the 30 shareholder representatives (2015: only 13) now meet the female quota specified by new German legislation*.
However, brands Adidas and Henkel (who in 2015 were already able to demonstrate a 30% share of women on their supervisory boards) fell back to 25%, i.e. below the requisite quota. The sports clothing manufacturer expanded its board by two male supervisory board members, and Beatrice Guillaume-Grabisch left the board at Henkel.

HeidelbergCement, where women account for just 17% of board members, sits bottom of the pile on the shareholder representative side amongst the major German corporate players.

Despite personnel and structural changes on 21 of the 30 boards (2015: 15), their formal quality remained largely constant. Applying a scoring system similar to that used in German schools (1 = best to 6 = worst), the average assessment of the composition of DAX 30 supervisory boards produced an overall score of 2.4 for 2016 (2015: 2.3).

The study analyses available biographical data for members of the the DAX 30 supervisory boards to assess how well the boards perform against criteria such as ‘business-relevant experience’, ‘positions held on other boards’, ‘diversity’ and ‘digital competence’.

The top spot in this year’s Russell Reynolds supervisory board ranking was secured by Siemens, with an overall score of 1.6, followed by last year’s winner Deutsche Bank, scoring 1.9, and in joint third place Adidas and Daimler, who each scored 2.0.

Daimler, which scored 2.3 in 2015, moves up from 13th place to take fourth. The biggest leap up the table (ranking 5th, up from 27th) was made by E.On, scoring 2.1 this year (2015 score: 3.0). The worst score this year – not least due to a lack of international experience and the low percentage of women – went to HeidelbergCement, with 3.1 (2015: ranked 22, score 2.5).


These are selected findings from the "DAX 30 Supervisory Board Study” conducted by leading global executive search consultancy, Russell Reynolds Associates. The study marks the sixth time that the firm has examined the changes at supervisory board level amongst the 30 biggest listed companies in Germany.

Continuing absence of international catalysts on German supervisory boards

The international composition of German supervisory boards declined slightly over the past year, with the proportion of non-German board members falling by one percentage point, to 27%. However, almost one in three of those come from neighbouring Austria and Switzerland, and of the newly-appointed supervisory board members, 67% hold a German passport.

“The issue of diversity should not be misinterpreted as simply satisfying the statutory women’s quota when appointing to supervisory board posts. At least equally important is cultural diversity and engaging an international perspective. Here, the DAX 30 supervisory boards have made no progress,” says Jens-Thomas Pietralla, Managing Director at Russell Reynolds Associates with responsibility for the DAX 30 Supervisory Board Study.

“It is true that we are seeing increasing operational experience abroad on the CVs of supervisory board members. Nevertheless, it is evidence of poor achievement for Germany, as an export nation, that not a single one of the newly-appointed supervisory board members over the past year comes from Asia or South America, and only one respectively comes from the USA and from Africa.”

There are some positive exceptions: Fresenius Medical Care has the highest share of non-German board members with 67%, followed by Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank, each with 60%, and the Deutsche Börse with 50%.
Austria continues to account for the biggest contingent of non-German board members, with 17 shareholder representatives, followed by the USA (12), UK (7) and France (6). Particularly interesting new board members, in view of their background and international experience, are the Egyptian major shareholder Nassef Sawiris at Adidas and the Swede Carolina Dybeck Happe and the Italian Erich Clementi at E.On.

Lack of profound digital competence on supervisory boards jeopardises digital transformation: only one in three supervisory boards has a dedicated expert for digital

The Russell Reynolds study also found that just 37% of DAX 30 supervisory boards have at least one member with proven digital competence. "Front-foot responses to the challenges of digital transformation and the associated disruptions should have the highest priority on the strategic agenda of all DAX 30 companies. But even if the executive board delivers this, two-thirds of the supervisory boards we investigated lack the in-depth functional expertise to be able to ask critical, eye-to-eye questions of the digital strategy presented by the executive,” says Dr. Thomas Tomkos, Managing Director and Country Manager for Germany at Russell Reynolds Associates: “Combined with the lack of internationalism, this striking deficit urgently needs to be addressed in the next round of elections to the supervisory board. If not, the German economy is set to fall behind the international competition in this success-critical area.”

Financial and industrial companies are supplying the top supervisory board members

The highest number of positions on the supervisory boards of German blue-chip companies goes to Paul Achleitner, Michael Diekmann and Henning Kagermann, each of whom holds four posts with DAX companies. Supervisory board specialist Pietralla comments on these multiple appointments: “What used to be referred to as ‘Deutschland AG’, with massive structural and financial intermeshing of companies, is now history. Nevertheless, there continue to be some supervisory board members and former top managers of major financial and industrial companies who are strongly represented on other DAX boards.”
In Ann-Kristin Achleitner, Renate Köcher, Sari Baldauf, Simone Bagel-Trah and Simone Menne, there are already five female supervisory board members with at least two posts represented amongst DAX 30 companies.

Two super election years ahead: 158 board member replacements planned for 2018 and 2019 in the DAX 30

The number of positions held by one person, on different boards, is expected to increase as two super election years approach in 2018 and 2019. There will be 158 new board members in total needed (2018: 71; 2019: 87) due to restrictions regarding age and tenure for example. Therefore, as the pool of potential candidates reduces, it may result in, a ‘reservation strategy’ for talent.
The high demand for female candidates is not just an issue for the supervisory boards. 1,300 additional female managers are needed for DAX 30 companies to meet their 30% quota at management board level, 1st and 2nd level management. When this is extrapolated to all management levels, the DAX 30 is somewhere between 30 and 50 thousand women shy of its target.


Differences between the genders continue to dominate: women are 3.2 years younger on taking up their appointment, and 2.7 years shorter in tenure than men

The trend towards positive diversity still goes hand-in-hand with considerable differences between the sexes: on average, women on DAX 30 supervisory boards enjoy a tenure 2.7 years shorter than their male colleagues (3.3 compared to 6.0 years), and on taking up post they are around 3.2 years younger (men 56.1; women 52.9). The average age of male supervisory board members is 62.1, which is six years above that for women (56.2). However, a gradual convergence in the demographic data is discernible over time, and this is set to continue moving forward. The typical DAX 30 supervisory board member is aged 60.4, and thus almost a year younger than the 2015 figure.
SAP, (10 years), BMW (9 years) and Fresenius Medical Care (9 years) have board members with the longest average tenure. At ProSiebenSat1, Vonovia and RWE supervisory board members are in post for less than three years, on average.

The highest supervisory board remuneration over the past year, with an average of EUR 316,000, was paid by BMW and Fresenius Medical Care. Volkswagen has dropped from first to last place within a year. The company pays its supervisory board members an unusually large share as variable remuneration, which resulted in average total remuneration last year of only around EUR 35,000, due to the diesel scandal (previous year average EUR 489,000).

Notes to editors: * Germany's lower house of parliament passed legislation in 2015 requiring major companies to allot 30 percent of seats on non-executive boards to women.

About Russell Reynolds Associates
Russell Reynolds Associates is a leading global executive search consultancy . Established in 1969 in New York, today Russell Reynolds Associates operates a global network with a total of 46 offices and over 370 consultants. In Germany, Russell Reynolds Associates has had a presence since 1985 and has offices in Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and Munich.
The company is wholly-owned by the partners who work within it. Alongside this independence, it is above all the globally-operating teams of experts for individual sectors which makes Russell Reynolds Associates stand out from the competition. Thanks to the strong loyalty of its clients and major success in acquiring mandates, Russell Reynolds Associates has enjoyed clear double-digit growth over many years.
For more information, visit and on Twitter @RRAonLeadership

For further information
Susanne J. Mathony
Director Marketing & Public Relations EMEA
Russell Reynolds Associates
Maximilianstrasse 12–14
80539 Munich
Tel.: +49 89 24 89 81 33 – Mobile: +49 174 25 82 711

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Half of all new DAX 30 Supervisory Board members are women – and just under one in three comes from outside Germany