Male Bastion

Banking on Women

Ingrid Hengster KfW exec board source company
Ingrid Hengster, executive board member at KfW bank, is one of the few women to make it to that level in Germany.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A lack of  female top executives is complicating efforts to add women to upper management and board posts and emboldening some female candidates to demand hefty salaries for their services.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Germany’s female quota law stipulates 30 percent of supervisory board positions must be held by women.
    • ING-Diba plans to increase the percentage of women in upper management from the current 17 percent to 22 percent by 2017, but plans to leave its executive board quota at its 20 percent.
    • By the end of September, banks must provide their 2017 goals for female quotas on the executive board and the two levels of management below that.
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A major German bank recently had to make a tricky decision. A spot on the executive board opened up and they wanted to appoint a woman. After an intensive search, a headhunter presented two promising candidates. “But their salary expectations were outside the realm of possibility,” a source who was present said. The decision was then made to hire a man.

This is not an isolated case. The German government-owned development bank KfW has been looking for months for a female chief risk officer. “Now, it is often the same woman who is considered for 10 different positions in banks’ succession plans, simply because there is still a great shortage of female junior executives,” said Reto Jauch, founder of the executive search boutique, Jauch Associates.

The banking sector is paying the price for relying on male networks for decades. Now, there is a lack of qualified women precisely at the moment when banks most urgently need them. The pressure on banks –both legally and socially – is building.

The German government has demanded that companies set goals for quotas for women on the executive board and in the two levels of management below them. By the end of September, banks must provide their goals for 2017, but few have released specific figures.

The ING-Diba is one of the few banks that has done their homework. The online bank plans to increase the percentage of women in upper management from the current 17 percent to 22 percent by 2017. By 2020, women should hold 30 percent of upper management positions. The ING-Diba is leaving only the executive board at the status quo of a 20 percent.

DZ Bank also is proving to be moderately ambitious. The goal for the board, until now in male hands, will remain at zero because no contracts run out in the near future. But the first woman is expected to be promoted into the group of 22 division managers by 2017.

Meanwhile, Hypo-Vereinsbank said it seeks to increase the percentage of women in “specialist and managerial positions,” currently at 26 percent, to 30 percent by 2017. These examples illustrate just how much ground this male-dominated banking sector needs to make up.

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