Stewardship | ~ 4 min read

The power of difference

There is ample academic research showing that diverse leadership teams make better business decisions. While the benefits are clear, we still see significant room for improvement on this issue at the executive level and below, particularly in Germany.

European Central Bank (ECB) research shows that banks with more gender-diverse boards provide less credit to “browner” – high-emitting – companies, supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral economy.1 Regulation is also driving greater gender diversity of boards.2 Moreover, the ECB, in its supervisory capacity, has included gender diversity in its guide on fit and proper assessments for banks’ top managers since 2021.

Germany trailing other European countries

Our analysis at the end of August 2023 shows on average 39% of supervisory board members of DAX 40 companies3 are women. However, on average only 22% of management board members are women, and only one company has a female CEO. Across the MDAX , the proportion of women at the executive level is even lower: 15.6% of management board members are women, with not a single female member on almost half of the boards.

Collaborative engagement

Increased gender diversity is an engagement priority which has led us to co-found and co-chair the 30% Club Germany Investor Group. This mirrors our active stewardship stance in France where we currently co-chair the 30% Club France Investor Group.

With our co-founders of this new Investor Group – Amundi, Candriam, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Legal & General Investment Management, and Sycomore Asset Management – we are calling on German companies to demonstrate higher commitment to the advancement of women on executive boards. We will collaboratively engage with DAX 40 and MDAX companies on this issue with the expectation for executive management teams of DAX 40 companies to attribute at least 30% of management board seats to women by 2030.

Regulation is not enough

With the FührungsPositionenGesetz (FüPOG II), the German government introduced a law requiring companies to appoint at least one woman to management boards of more than three members. While this will advance gender diversity, and initial improvements are already visible, we expect further progress to take time compounded by this law not being applicable to all DAX-listed companies. Therefore, we believe constructive investor engagement with portfolio companies is key to advancing gender parity.

Learn more about our focus on gender diversity as an engagement priority in this short video 

1 European Central Bank, October 2022, Gender diversity in bank boardrooms and green lending: evidence from euro area credit register data (
2 For example, the Women on Boards Directive adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council in November 2022
3 The DAX is a stock market index consisting of the 40 major German blue-chip companies and the MDAX includes the the 50 Prime Standard shares that rank in size immediately below the companies included in the DAX index.

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