Women on Boards – The Dumb Comments Continue

The issue of women on boards continues to make headlines. Many countries are wrestling with the idea of quotas and others have already implemented it. Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank Germany, recently made a remark about this issue which got him in a lot of hot water. Responding to a question at last weeks annual results conference he stated “I hope it will be prettier and more colorful one day”. Mr. Ackermann’s comments were attacked by many prominent women in German business, including Ilse Aigner, minister for consumer affairs, saying: “Whoever wants things more colorful and beautiful should go to a flower meadow or museum”.

Mr. Ackerman here are a few words of wisdom for what to say next time. “We are well versed in the incredible amount of evidence that greater board diversity leads to better decision making and are trying to get over this white male bias that clearly is reflected in our current lack of diversity. We say we cannot find talented women to fill these board seats but really, we are not trying very hard and this will change. We recognize that women are half the population, are clearly as smart and capable as men, and although there are fewer women with CEO experience that is often a prerequisite for board placement, we will find the talent BECAUSE we know that greater board diversity will lead to better outcomes. We did not do well in the financial crisis as you know, and our hope is that a more robust board going forward will help us weather the next storm more soundly.”
Some facts
“Deutsche Bank has no female executive board members and last year only 2.2% of executive board members at the 30 companies in Germany’s blue-chip DAX index were women. Germany also came last in ranking if women’s representation on executive boards.”
– 14.8% of Fortune 500 board seats were filled by women (2009)
-15.4% of Fortune 500 corporative officers were women (2009)
-During the four-year span of their study, Fortune 500 companies with the highest percentage of women on their boards, and greater numbers of women in the clout titles, saw 53% higher returns on equity than those companies with the fewest number of women on their boards.

Return equity for companies with at least three women on their boards was 16.7%, compared with 11.5% for the average company.

To read more about the article visit Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, or The Telegraph.
Our foundation has created a “Why Diversity on Corporate Boards Matters” Brief – if you would like it please email me at [email protected] .

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