Germany: Board-level representation under threat
Whereas in 2015 all 30 supervisory boards of DAX companies had employee representatives, in September a quarter of the future 40 DAX supervisory boards could be without employee representatives.
Russell Reynolds, one of the world's leading recruitment consultancies recently conducted a study assessing democracy at work in the future Dax companies. The study is of huge importance since the number of DAX companies will be increased from 30 to 40 companies in September 2021. According to the study, employee representation in the board-level will drastically decrease with the add-on.
There are several reasons why supervisory boards do not have equal representation.
Although the proportion of women on the shareholder representative side has continued to increase in 2021, the average share of women in supervisory boards remains unchanged at 36%. Moreover, there has again been no progress in the proportion of women as chairpersons of the supervisory board or of committees.
"It must be questioned whether this is creepingly undermining the thoroughly successful German model of co-determination," says Russell Reynolds representative Thomas Tomkos, who supervised the analysis. The importance of parity in board-level representation is not negligible, especially in the context of the current pandemic and the economic crisis it has entailed.
During the last financial crisis, the Hans-Boeckler Foundation conducted a study to assess the impact of board-level parity in the moment of crisis. It showed that corporate co-determination helped to reduce short-term behaviour and to successfully manage transformation processes. It is is a beneficial instrument to communicate between owners and employees to find compromises. On the one hand, co-determined companies showed better results in the capital market as well as in operational performance during the financial and economic crisis, and on the other hand, corporate decisions continued to pay special attention to long-term livelihood security.