Women in the Boardroom: German Firms Scramble to Meet Quotas – part 1

Published on Spiegel Onlilne International, by Janko Tietz, January 18, 2013 (Photo Gallery).

An EU quota passed in November has German companies scrambling to find women to sit on their supervisory boards. Many gains have already been made, but some wonder whether the focus should be on diversity rather than women … //

… Breaking Through:

2013 will be an important year for elections to German supervisory boards, half of whose members must by law represent investors while the other half represents employees. Among companies listed on the DAX-30 index alone, 71 board seat mandates on the investor side of the table will expire this year (see graphic), which amounts to nearly a third of the total board seats allotted to stockholders. Many of these will simply be filled again by their current occupants, but quite a few will be newly assigned. “We will see a wave of female supervisory board members,” predicts Wulf Bernotat, retired CEO of the German utility giant E.on.

Supervisory boards cannot intervene in a company’s business operations, but they do appoint members to the management board. And the more women who join a supervisory board, the greater the chances that they will also assign more women to the company’s management levels.

Next week, the German engineering giant Siemens will hold its annual general meeting and elect its new supervisory board. On the investor side, it looks very probable that Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, 53, a current board member who is also CEO of the engineering firm Trumpf, will be joined by another woman: Güler Sabanci, 57, the Turkish CEO and managing director of Sabanci Holding.

Meanwhile, Ann-Kristin Achleitner, 46, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial and Financial Studies at Munich Technical University, was nominated to the supervisory board of Munich Re in early January. The official election will take place when the German insurance giant holds its general meeting on April 25. This would make Achleitner the fifth woman on the 20-member board.

Achleitner is already a member of the supervisory boards of retailer Metro AG, energy provider GDF Suez and the Linde Group, a major gas and engineering company. In fact, at Linde, she is expected to be the next chair of that board. Achleitner is also involved in the government-appointed commission developing the German Corporate Governance Code. Her resume reads as though it covered the lives and careers of three people rather than just one. Indeed, although the former McKinsey consultant has never held a position of direct operational responsibility, there is hardly another woman in Germany with as much economic influence as Achleitner.

When asked if she feels powerful, Achleitner gives a succinct answer: “No. I feel like a woman with a career.” Achleitner, who is married to Paul Achleitner, chair of the supervisory board at Deutsche Bank, decided on this new position at Munich Re because she felt she was most familiar with the business sector in question. “My strengths are in the areas of financial services and accounting,” she says.

Using Strengths Rather Than Conforming: … //

… (full text).

Part 2: Top-Down Change.

3 Related graphs:

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