A key challenge for our clients in 2016 is achieving greater diversity – in particular at the leadership level. Fidelio was therefore pleased to launch the year with an impassioned, lively and frank debate on the effectiveness of quotas. Our key speakers were Lady Barbara Judge, Chairman of the Institute of Directors, and Edelgard Bulmahn, Vice President of the German Bundestag. The conclusions were bold and there was a clear consensus for change. Greater effectiveness and diversity at Board and Executive level can only be achieved by adopting a radically different approach. And it is this fresh thinking that underpins every aspect of Fidelio’s Board and Executive Search practice, as well as our “A Seat at the Table” programme for senior female executives.
In January 2016, Fidelio was pleased to co-host a seminar entitled “Die Frauenquote—and other routes to board diversity” with Nabarro LLP, the German-British Chamber of Industry & Commerce and the German-British Forum.
Our keynote speakers were joined by an illustrious panel comprising: Carl-Peter Forster, who sits on a number of engineering Boards including Volvo Cars Corporation, Geely Automobile Holdings, the London Taxi Company, IMI plc and Rexam plc; Dr Marion Helmes, Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ProSiebenSat 1, Non-Executive Director of NXP Semiconductors; Elisabeth Lady Stheeman, Supervisory Board Member of Aareal Bank AG, Supervisory Board Member of TLG Immobilien AG; Daniela Weber-Rey, Chief Governance Officer at Deutsche Bank AG.
The audience included FTSE 100 Chairmen, UK and German Directors, major investors and Chairmen of charities that are key agencies for change, as well as curious journalists. The discourse was exceptionally candid and based on first-hand experience of hard business challenges. This combination of insight surely provides a crucible for change.
The “Frauenquote” theme is highly topical. Germany’s quota stipulating 30% female representation at Supervisory Board level for the largest listed companies came into effect at the beginning of 2016, affecting approximately 108 companies. The legally-binding quota is accompanied by a series of requirements compelling large and mid-sized companies to also set internal targets for female representation at their top management levels.
The UK has chosen a different path. The 2010 Davies Report set out a voluntary target of 25% female representation on FTSE 100 Boards in 2015. With corporates, Search firms and investors coming together, and the government clearly prepared to take more forceful measures if necessary, the target was met – just. Now, under the recommendations of the 2015 Davies Review, the UK is striving for 33% female representation on FTSE 350 Boards by 2020. The enormous challenge at the Executive layer is recognised.