FRANKFURT, June 1 (Reuters) - Banks in Germany made only
marginal gains in increasing female representation in management
last year, with women accounting for just 34.8% of leadership
positions, figures from employment lobby AGV Banken show.
The problem underscores challenges for board rooms in many
business sectors across Germany. For the finance industry in
particular, it is not a good look as it seeks to win business
from London in the wake of Brexit, and calls for action from
politicians and investors are growing louder.
The latest data for private sector banks compares with 34.3%
in 2019, although strides have been made from figures of less
than 10% at the start of the 1990s.
Recognizing that more needs to be done, banks say they are
taking steps to promote gender balance even as staff cuts and
major overhauls complicate matters. Some, like Deutsche Bank
and Commerzbank, have set female
representation goals of 35%, which some critics say lack zeal.
"The financial sector is a male domain. This must be
disrupted," said Cansel Kitzeltepe, a member of Germany's
A study by Boston Consulting Group and the Technical
University of Munich found that Germany is behind major
economies like Britain and France in female representation on
boards. Britain is expected to reach gender parity on boards in
2034, and France in 2039, but it will take until 2053 for
Germany to reach that point.
Nicole Voigt, a managing director of Boston Consulting and
an author of the report, said: "We are half the population...why
not equality rather than just 35%?"
Berlin is making a new push. In June, parliament plans to
enact a law affecting 70 larger listed companies, requiring
management boards with more than three members to include at
least one woman.
Critics argue that the legislation doesn't go far enough as
larger boards of 10 would still be required to have only one
"Reality still lags what is desired despite legislation in
recent decades," said Bettina Stark-Watzinger, a pro-business
Free Democrat member of German parliament.
Christine Novakovic, the head of UBS's Europe operations
based in Frankfurt, said that if a woman wants to be at the top,
her family has to play along.
"Unfortunately, it is still very often the case that women
cannot combine careers and families," she said.
Germany also has one of the greatest gender pay gaps in
Europe, according to the German Institute for Economic Research,
Female senior executives in Germany with Unicredit
earned 76% of what males earned in 2020, smaller portions than
any other country where the bank reports figures.
HVB, Unicredit's German unit, said it had partly closed the
gap in pay over the past year.
Deutsche Bank in May announced new gender diversity goals
after missing some at the end of 2020. The bank now aims for
women to account for 35% of managing directors, directors and
vice presidents by 2025, compared to 29% now.
Deutsche said it will do "real-time" monitoring of progress
to keep on track.
In April, one of Germany's most prominent female bankers,
Carola von Schmettow, retired from the head of HSBC in Germany
and was replaced by a man. HSBC said it was fully committed to
increasing the number of women in senior management, but the
episode further highlighted the gender divide.
Lisa Paus, a member of German parliament, is calling for
strict quotas for women on boards.
"The German banking sector is facing major upheaval and
could do with a breath of fresh air and more women in management
positions," Paus said.
(Reporting by Tom Sims and Patricia Uhlig; Editing by Riham
Alkousaa, Angus MacSwan and Edwina Gibbs)