Bloomberg News

German DAX Companies Set Voluntary Quotas for Female Bosses

October 17, 2011

(Updates with Deutsche Bank target in fifth paragraph.)

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Germany’s 30 biggest publicly listed companies announced targets for promoting women today, capping more than six months of debate over women in the boardroom with a program that stops short of a mandatory quota.

The members of Germany’s DAX index didn’t set goals for women in top board positions. Instead, the companies set divergent targets for increasing the proportion of women in other management positions within four to nine years.

Women run the German government -- led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and with Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen, whose ministry gets more than 40 percent of the country’s federal budget -- yet they have failed to penetrate the country’s boardrooms. Just 3.7 percent of executive board members are women, said von der Leyen, who earlier this year called for a 30 percent quota.

“The real question is how the DAX companies are dealing with the glass ceiling,” von der Leyen said at a press conference in Berlin. “The glass ceiling is exactly where the executive board starts, and 3.7 percent is an impossibly low number for the 21st century.”

Deutsche Bank AG, whose Chief Executive Officer Josef Ackermann angered Merkel’s ministers by saying in February that a woman would make his all-male board “more colorful and prettier,” pledged today that a quarter of its managing directors and directors worldwide will be female by 2018. About 16 percent of the people in those jobs today are female.

More Women Managers

Including vice presidents, assistant vice presidents and associates, Deutsche Bank said 35 percent of managers will be women, up from 29 percent today.

Siemens AG said women’s share of leadership positions in Germany would rise from 10 percent to as much as 13 percent by 2015.

“It’s everything from top management to people who are project managers,” Siemens spokesman Michael-Hans Friedrich said by telephone from Munich today. The affected group of employees numbers about 22,000 people in Germany, he said. “Our goal is to employ more women, especially in technical professions.”

Wilfried Porth, Daimler AG’s head of human resources, said the company favors an industry specific approach. Daimler plans to raise the number of women in leadership positions to 20 percent from the current 10 percent by 2020.

Norway Leads

Led by Norway in 2003, other European nations have used quotas to bring more women into corporate management. Spain followed in 2007. France this year required 40 percent female boards by 2016 at its 2,500 biggest companies.

In the U.K., a government-appointed panel has called for a third of new directors to be female. Women accounted for 22.5 percent of such appointments at companies in the FTSE 250 index since the target was set in February, according to Cranfield University research.

Merkel rejected von der Leyen’s call for a quota, saying German companies should do more from within to promote women.

“I reject the idea of politicians setting a unified target for companies,” Family Minister Kristina Schroeder said today, adding that companies had set “ambitious” goals.

About one-third of the DAX companies set global targets for female leadership without listing Germany-specific goals.

--With assistance from Angela Cullen in Frankfurt, Andrew Atkinson in London and Andreas Cremer in Berlin. Editors: Leon Mangasarian, Eddie Buckle

To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Kresge in Berlin at nkresge@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net


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