Can do much better: global leadership team gender survey highlights Germany’s place in the world.

01 Dec 2020

Can do much better: global leadership team gender survey highlights Germany’s place in the world.

Whilst global figures show some progress towards more gender-balanced leadership teams in publicly-quoted corporations, German DAX companies clearly have work to do.

A 2020 study by BoardEx examined the degree of female representation at the most senior management levels of corporations listed in 26 equity indexes across the world.

The global survey, in partnership with Odgers Berndtson, considered 14,850 individual leadership roles.

In the Global Gender Diversity Report, BoardEx found, unsurprisingly, that the encouraging rates of progress in increasing female participation at board level were uneven across different countries.

Similarly, there was also a difference in progress towards greater gender balance at executive and non–executive level across all the 26 countries analysed.

Comparing boards and non-board leadership roles, the first key finding emerged.

The diversity levels for the latter are mostly lower than those at board level, even for the best performing indexed-companies.

“This is important, not only in itself, but because these female leaders are future board members. Any shortage of women at this senior management level signals that a lack of diversity on boards and in top management is bound to continue.”, says Christiane Pietsch, Head of the Financial Services Practice and Partner at Odgers Berndtson Germany.

Strong (and weak) gender representation

Another key global finding is that 19% of all leadership team roles are held by women.

Of these, only 11% are in general management. This is particularly disappointing, given that general management has by far the highest percentage of leadership team roles. In fact, it accounts for 44% of roles across the 26 indices. Looking at the global picture, women, in many cases, dominate HR and are also strongly represented in legal roles.

So what is the state of gender equality in Germany?

Well, at board level, 29% of members are female, the 7th highest percentage globally, a position Germany shares with Spain.

In comparison, female representation drops by more than half to 13% when one looks at non-board senior leadership positions in DAX-listed companies. This compares unfavourably with the global average of 19%.

For every woman senior leader in German DAX companies, there are almost six men.

In contrast to the global average, in German DAX corporations there are no female–dominated leadership roles.

Indeed, the role with the highest percentage of women, HR, is only 41% female, nearly 20% below the global average.

The next roles that are closer to gender balance are legal ones, although they are only 33% female in Germany. And it must be remembered that legal roles represent only 2% of all leadership team positions in DAX companies. The third area most likely to have women in senior leadership is sales, marketing and PR, with 27%.

All in all, not a pretty picture.

What about the all-important area of general management that makes up 52% of all leadership roles, more than any other? Well, in Germany, it is a very poor 8% female.

Finance roles fare a little better: 16% of finance positions in DAX companies are held by women.

Finally, according to the research, there are no women at all at senior management team level in property and purchasing, and they hold only 4% of operations and technical roles.

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Global Leadership Team Gender Diversity Report

Our Global Leadership Team Diversity Report is a close-up view of leadership teams across the globe. The report is based on disclosed management groups along with BoardEx’s database of individual profiles to examine the degree of female representation at the most senior management levels of these corporations.

Download now

Time to make progress on diversity

Given the picture revealed by the survey, there is clearly much to be done on attracting, developing, supporting and nurturing female leadership talent.  And any other ‘minority’ talent for that matter.

Our focus on gender equality should not obscure the need to create a level playing field for others who are clearly also under-represented and whose talents are being wasted.

“It’s not simply enough to hire diverse talent. Support structures, leadership commitment and diversity and inclusion initiatives must be in place to retain and support the advancement of that talent.”, adds Manuela Klos, Associate Partner and Member of the Financial Services Practice at Odgers Berndtson Germany.

Our role in this is clear: to help clients specify roles in such a way that delivers the deepest and most diverse pool of talented people. We call it the Unlimited approach (link) and it’s also why we are committed to Germany’s Diversity Charter.

You can’t really appoint the best person for the job, if you don’t consider all of the best that’s out there.  To discuss how our unlimited thinking can help your leadership and talent strategy find the best leadership talent, please get in touch.

Of course, we’re always happy to discuss your talent and leadership requirements in the light of the report.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.