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Women Still the Exception on Executive Boards of Germany's Large Firms: Gradually Increasing Representation on Supervisory Boards

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  • Elke Holst
  • Anja Kirsch

Abstract

The trend toward more women on the corporate boards of German companies continued in 2013, albeit on a small scale. The share of women on the supervisory boards of the 200 largest companies increased by more than two percentage points, and thus at a somewhat higher rate than in recent years, to just over 15 percent. The corresponding share of women on executive boards virtually stagnated at a low level of just over four percent. These findings are revealed in DIW Berlin's latest Female Executive Barometer. In the DAX 30 companies there was even a decrease in the share of women on executive boards. The shares of female executives in MDAX, SDAX, and TecDAX companies also remained low. The development in companies with government-owned shares was limited as well. Moreover, women chairing corporate boards are still very much the exception in all the groups of companies studied. This applies to both supervisory and executive boards. The findings clearly indicate that increasing the share of women on corporate boards is not a self-sustaining process, that progress is slow, and that substantial efforts are still required. In order to achieve equal representation of both genders in these posts in the foreseeable future, more drastic changes are needed. In Germany, public companies could play a pioneering role, which is not the case at present. Companies in Germany and their interest associations can look to the Nordic countries for examples of firms that achieve substantial increases in the number of women on corporate boards without mandatory state regulation. Comparing European countries, however, we see that the share of women on corporate boards increased fastest in countries with a mandatory women's quota.

Suggested Citation

  • Elke Holst & Anja Kirsch, 2014. "Women Still the Exception on Executive Boards of Germany's Large Firms: Gradually Increasing Representation on Supervisory Boards," DIW Economic Bulletin, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 4(3), pages 3-15.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwdeb:2014-3-1
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    File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.440268.de/diw_econ_bull_2014-03-1.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Kay, Rosemarie & Schlömer-Laufen, Nadine, 2016. "Gender diversity in top-management positions in large family and nonfamily businesses," Working Papers 02/16, Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Board composition; female directors; corporate boards; women CEOs; . - gender equality; management; listed companies; private companies; public. - companies; women¿s quotas;

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J59 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Other
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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