Many German firms have no women on boards despite quota, study shows

FILE PHOTO: German Justice Minister Lambrecht testifies at Wirecard inquiry

BERLIN (Reuters) – The number of women in German boardrooms is only rising slowly despite legal quotas and many large listed German companies have no women on their management teams, a study showed on Thursday.

Of the 66 listed firms subject to a new quota for executive management, including 30 on the DAX blue-chip index, 25 have no women on the board and 12 have no plan yet to change this, the Women on Supervisory Boards (FidAR) initiative said.

“There must finally be an end to DAX boards without women. Many companies do not have any women in management positions and are obviously not pursuing any strategy to change this,” FidAR President Monika Schulz-Strelow said in statement. 

Germany’s cabinet approved legislation in January to force larger listed companies to have at least one woman on their management boards. It follows a quota introduced in 2015 for 30% of posts on supervisory boards to be held by women.

FidAR said six of the 66 firms subject to the new regulation had appointed a woman to their management boards since the announcement of the plan, including Adidas, Bayer, E.ON and Infineon.

The proportion of women on the supervisory boards of 186 companies included in the three top German market indexes rose by only 1 percentage point to 33% and by 1.7 points to 24.5% for DAX companies not subject to the quota.

“It is high time for the minimum participation of women on management boards,” said Women’s Affairs Minister Christine Lambrecht, whose ministry helped fund the study.

Under the new rule, which still needs parliament’s approval, firms must report on whether and how they aim to meet the quota, risking a fine for failing to give a good reason for not setting a target to include any women on their management boards.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged companies in March to promote more women to top posts, although efforts to introduce binding quotas for boards of European Union firms have stalled.

European Commission data shows fewer than 7% of chief executives of top companies are women. Recent reports suggest the COVID-19 pandemic may be reversing workplace equality gains.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Edmund Blair)